APPEAL FROM THE FORTIETH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 17, 68, DIVISION
"A" HONORABLE MADELINE JASMINE, JUDGE PRESIDING
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, STATE OF LOUISIANA,
DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES Jessica Coalter.
COUNSEL FOR MINOR/APPELLEE, A.M.C. Rodney B. Hastings
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, A.D.C. Fontella F. Baker.
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE-2ND APPELLANT, M.R.C. Kevin L.
composed of Marc E. Johnson, Robert M. Murphy, and Stephen J.
M. MURPHY JUDGE.
district court rendered judgment in this case on the petition
of the Department of Children and Family Services
("DCFS"), terminating the parental rights of the
mother, A.C., and the father, M.C., to the minor child
A.M.C. A.C. and M.C. appeal from that judgment.
For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
was born on March 16, 2014, and is the minor child of A.C.
and M.C. On February 18, 2016, DCFS filed a petition to
terminate A.C.'s and M.C.'s parental rights, alleging
that they had abandoned A.M.C. and that their rights should
be terminated under La. Ch.C. art. 1015(4) and/or
The petition also asserted that it was in A.M.C's best
interest to be freed for adoption.
a hearing on June 23, 2016, the court found that DCFS had
established grounds for termination under La. Ch.C. art.
1015(5). Specifically, the court noted that: 1) A.M.C. had
been removed from her parents' custody for over one year;
2) there had not been substantial parental compliance, and;
3) there was no reasonable expectation that the parents'
condition of a diminished capacity to understand how to
properly care for A.M.C.'s special medical needs would
improve in the near future. Additionally, the court found
that being freed for adoption was in A.M.C.'s best
interest considering that the prospective adoptive parent
knew how to operate A.M.C.'s medical equipment and
administer medication, and the prospective adoptive parent is
related to one of A.M.C's parents and "would likely
continue to foster a relationship between [A.M.C] and her
biological parents." The court rendered judgment on
August 26, 2016, terminating the parental rights of both
parents. It is from this judgment that A.C. and M.C. appeal.
their first assignment of error, A.C. and M.C. argue that the
trial court erred in finding that they had not substantially
complied with the case plan. In their second assignment, it
is argued that the trial court committed manifested error
and/or abused its discretion in finding that termination of
parental rights was in A.M.C.'s best interest.
Conversely, DCFS argues that while A.C. and M.C. apparently
made some effort toward the case plan goals, their efforts
were not sufficient to improve their "situation."
Furthermore, DCFS contends that the trial court did not err
in finding that the termination of parental rights was in
A.M.C.'s best interest.
petition to terminate, DCFS asserted that after A.M.C. was
taken into the State's custody on September 16, 2014, the
court approved a case plan for services to return A.M.C. to
her parents, but that neither parent had substantially
complied with the case plan. With respect to A.C., the
petition alleged the following:
1. The mother has failed to attend all court-approved
scheduled visitations with the child.
2. The mother has failed to consistently keep the Department
apprised of her whereabouts and significant changes affecting
her ability to comply with the case plan for services.
3. The mother has failed to contribute to the court ordered
costs of the child's care.
4. The mother has failed to complete and demonstrate
significant measurable progress in all required programs of
treatment and rehabilitation services.
5. The mother lacks substantial improvement in redressing the
problems preventing reunification.
6. The conditions that led to the removal or similar
potentially harmful conditions persist.
7. The mother has failed to establish housing safe and
appropriate for herself and her child.
8. The mother has not provided the agency with an appropriate
9. The mother has not attended all FTC' s, court
hearings, medical appointments and all other appointments ...