COVINGTON COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES D.T.H.
Covington County Department of Human Resources.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
from Covington Juvenile Court JU-15-118.05 and JU-16-48.04.
Cotton, Andalusia, for appellant A.P.
S. Baker of Laird, Baker & Blackstock, Opp, for appellant
Marshall, atty. gen., and Felicia M. Brooks, chief legal
counsel, and Karen P. Phillips, asst. atty. gen., and
Department of Human Resources, for appellee.
("the mother") and D.T.H. ("the father")
appeal from judgments of the Covington Juvenile Court
("the juvenile court") terminating the father's
parental rights to W.T.H., G.H., and J.H. ("the
children") and the mother's parental rights to G.H.
and J.H. We reverse the judgments and remand the causes.
and Procedural History
father and the mother are the unmarried parents of G.H., born
in October 2008, and J.H., born in January 2011. The father
is a parent of W.T.H., born in June 2004. After W.T.H.'s
mother passed away when he was four or five years old, W.T.H.
began living with the father and the mother. In March 2016,
the juvenile court granted the Covington County Department of
Human Resources ("DHR") emergency custody of the
children, and the children have been in the legal custody of
DHR since then. G.H. and J.H. are in the foster care of T.P.
and J.P. W.T.H. is in the foster care of another couple. The
parents' visitations with the children were required to
September 15, 2017, DHR filed complaints seeking the
termination of the father's parental rights to the
children and of the mother's parental rights to G.H. and
J.H. The father answered the complaints and filed a
counterclaim seeking custody of the children or, in the
alternative, visitation with them. A guardian ad litem was
appointed to represent the best interests of the children.
November 29, 2017, and on January 31, 2018, the trial court
conducted a trial. At the trial, the father and the following
DHR employees testified: Ladarious Benson, Andrea Hobbie, and
Melinda Barton. Barton supervised the parents' case with
DHR. Benson worked with the mother and the father from the
end of 2015 to March 2017. According to Benson, DHR's
initial concerns were the children's missing school days
and doctor's appointments, reports of drug use, and
overall stability of the home. Hobbie testified that she
began working with the mother and the father in April 2017.
Hobbie testified that she had the following safety concerns
regarding returning the children to the parents: substance
abuse, mental instability, financial instability, and housing
employees testified that there were regular Individualized
Service Plan ("ISP") meetings at which goals were
set for the parents and that the parents did
not comply or provide proof that they had met many of the
goals. Benson testified that the parents' financial
situation was part of the reason that the parents did not
meet the ISP goals. The DHR employees testified that the
parents had generally been uncooperative throughout much of
the time that the children were in DHR's legal custody.
In his testimony, the father denied being uncooperative with
DHR but admitted that he did not achieve many of the goals
testified that the mother and the father each underwent a
psychological evaluation. Hobbie testified that, based on her
psychological evaluation, the mother had a borderline
personality disorder. Benson testified that, as a result of
the psychological evaluations, drug counseling was
recommended to the mother and marital counseling was
recommended to both parents but that the mother and the
father did not follow the recommendations.
testified that the parents were asked to participate in
counseling services, mental-health services, drug screening,
and substance-abuse treatment, but not parenting classes,
because, she said, the parents were not ready for
reunification with the children. According to Hobbie, the
mother received a drug-treatment assessment on August 1,
2017, but did not receive drug treatment services because she
had said that she had been sober for 180 days. Hobbie
testified that the parents did not participate in other
to Benson, the parents have not received any drug treatments
or counseling services. The father testified that he had
attended a number of Narcotics Anonymous meetings and that he
had attended some of the meetings with the mother. Benson
testified that, while he worked with the mother, the results
for the mother's drug screens were as follows: one
positive for opiates and oxycodone, one passed, two refused,
and one involving a diluted sample. Benson also testified
that the mother had tested positive for methamphetamine and
amphetamine. Hobbie testified that, while she worked with
her, the mother submitted to the drug screens and tested
positive once for "spice" in November 2017.
testified that the father tested positive in March 2016 for
methamphetamine. Benson and Hobbie testified that the father
did not test positive for illegal drugs while they worked
with him but that he did not participate in some drug
screens. Barton and Hobbie testified that the mother had
reported that the father had used someone ...