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Mother Appeals Decision to Terminate Her Parental Rights


The termination of parental rights is a serious matter in Florida. In some cases, a parent can voluntarily surrender their parental rights to a child as in the case of adoption. In other cases, the court will find cause to terminate a parent’s parental rights because the court has determined that they are a threat to the child’s wellbeing. In one case, Molina v. Fuenmayor, the court saw fit to terminate the parental rights of the mother. The mother appealed the decision. Below, the Tampa divorce attorneys at Westchase Law, P.A. will review the case and the court’s decision.

Background of the case 

The mother appealed the trial court’s final order terminating her parental rights to a minor daughter called M.N. The order granted sole parental responsibility to M.N.’s father. During the trial, the court relied on four independent statutory grounds under Florida Statutes § 39.806. Due to the fact that competent substantial evidence supported termination under at least one of the statutory grounds, the appeals court affirmed the trial court’s ruling and denied the mother’s appeal.

The appeal arose from a contentious custody battle. M.N., the daughter, was born in Venezuela in 2011 and both of her parents were Venezuelan citizens. By the time M.N. was born, the parents’ relationship had ended, but both parents were involved in the child’s life in accordance with a custody order approved by a Venezuelan court. In July 2012, the mother took M.N. to Miami. This resulted in the father filing a petition in the Southern District of Florida for the return of the child to Venezuela. The Florida court granted the father’s petition and ordered the child be returned to her native country. Ultimately, M.N. and both parents returned to Venezuela.

M.N. lived with her father in Venezuela until he relocated to the U.S. in 2014. This resulted in a second Hague Convention case filed by the mother. Following a two-day bench trial, the court denied the mother’s petition. The father remained in the U.S. The mother then moved to the U.S. At this point, the mother had not seen M.N. for five years. She filed a motion to prevent M.N. from leaving Miami. In response, the father filed a counterpetition to terminate the mother’s parental rights.

During trial, the court heard testimony from the father, the mother, and M.N.’s guardian ad litem along with various witnesses. Following the hearing, the court issued a final judgment terminating the mother’s parental rights on the statutory grounds of abandonment, conduct threatening the life or safety of the child, egregious conduct, and a plot to murder the other parent.

Ultimately, the appeals court found that there were grounds to substantiate at least one of the father’s claims relating to the termination of parental rights. They, therefore, denied the mother’s appeal.

Talk to a Tampa, FL Divorce Lawyer Today 

Westchase Law, P.A. represents the interests of Florida residents who are pursuing divorce. If you are going through a divorce, you need an experienced attorney at your side who will advocate on your behalf. Call our Tampa family law attorneys today to schedule an appointment, and learn more about how we can help.

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