Broward County’s appeals court recently overturned a local mother’s termination of parental rights. In this dependency case, the Department of Children and Families failed to prove there was no reasonable basis to believe that the mother would improve regarding her alcoholism. D.C.F. had failed to call any expert witnesses, and the mother had actually successfully completed substance abuse treatment even though she had not been offered a case plan.
The appellate court held there was no competent, substantial evidence that there was no reasonable basis that the mother would improve. The court further held that the case manager’s testimony was not competent, substantial evidence of a history of domestic violence. And there was no evidence that the parents were in an ongoing relationship. The appellate court concluded that a finding that domestic violence services would be futile was speculation with little evidentiary support. The District Court also held that the evidence was insufficient to support termination of parental rights because although children were removed from the home on three dates, there was not competent, substantial evidence that the earlier removals were caused by the mother. Due to the lack of evidence to support either ground, the case was sent back to family court.
The case was B.A. v. Department of Children Families, and the appellate court opinion can be read here.