Florida Court Examines Appellate Review of Decisions Terminating Parental Rights

The Florida courts generally aim to preserve the relationship between parents and their children. A court’s primary interest in any action involving a child, however, is what is in the child’s best interest. As such, if a court determines that terminating a parent’s rights will benefit a child, that decision will typically be upheld on appeal. Recently, a Florida appellate court discussed the standard of review appellate courts employ when assessing whether a trial court properly terminated a parent’s rights in a case in which it ultimately upheld the trial court’s decision. If you have questions regarding custody of your child, it is in your best interest to speak to a skilled Miami child custody lawyer regarding your options.

Procedural History of the Case

The grounds for the action to terminate the mother’s parental rights were not provided. It is reported, however, that proceedings were instituted to terminate the mother’s parental rights with regard to her three minor children. Multiple evidentiary hearings were held, during which the mother produced medical records and witness testimony in support of her assertion that her rights should be preserved. The trial court did not find the mother’s arguments to be persuasive and issued a final judgment terminating her parental rights. The mother appealed.

Appellate Review of Decisions Terminating Parental Rights

On appeal, the court focused on the standard of review employed when evaluating whether a trial court properly terminated a party’s parental rights. Specifically, the appellate court noted that its function was not to re-evaluate evidence presented at trial and substitute its judgment for that of the trial court.

Instead, in cases in which it is evident that the trial court weighed the evidence presented by the parties and reached a conclusion based on that evidence, its judgment will be presumed to be correct unless it is clearly shown to be improper or lacking in evidentiary support. In other words’ the appellate court’s duty is not to conduct a de novo trial or reweigh the evidence offered by independently determining whether such evidence satisfies the clear and convincing standard when taken as a whole.

Thus, the appellate court’s review of a determination to sever parental rights is highly deferential, and such determinations will only be overturned in cases in which no rational person could find the evidence to be clear and convincing. In the subject case, the appellate court found no basis to overturn the trial court ruling. Thus, it was affirmed.

Meet with an Experienced Miami Attorney

If a Florida court finds that it would be in a child’s best interest to sever the parental relationship, the decision will most likely be upheld on appeal. If your parental rights are in jeopardy, it is important to act promptly, and you should meet with an attorney as soon as possible. The experienced Miami child custody attorneys of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., take pride in helping parents maintain their relationships with their children, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. Our office is in Aventura, and we frequently represent parties in family law disputes in Miami. You can reach us through our online form or at 800-596-0579 to set up a meeting.