Jefferson County Department of Human Resources
from Jefferson Juvenile Court (JU-17-492.02)
("the father") appeals from a judgment entered by
the Jefferson Juvenile Court ("the juvenile court")
terminating his parental rights to A.M.S. ("the
child"). We reverse the juvenile court's judgment.
22, 2017, the Jefferson County Department of Human Resources
("DHR") filed a petition to terminate the parental
rights of the unknown parents of the child. On November 6,
2017, the father filed a motion to strike the petition,
alleging in part: "DHR knows who the father is, has
known who the father is, has worked with the father, has
attended Individualized Service Plan ('ISP') meetings
with the father, and has arranged visitation between the
father and [the] child both prior to and during the filing of
the Petition." That same day, the father filed a motion
to dismiss the petition.
March 1, 2018, the juvenile court entered an order that
stated, in part: "Father's motions to strike and
dismiss are granted ... in that DHR shall amend [its]
Termination of Parental Rights Petition." On March 22,
2018, DHR filed an amendment to the petition to terminate the
parental rights regarding the father in which it alleged, in
part: "On or about July 21, 2017, [the father] submitted
to motherless DNA testing and was determined to be the
biological father of the minor child." The juvenile
court thereafter adjudicated the father to be the father of
trial in this matter was held on March 20, 2019; it was
consolidated with the trial of case number JU-15-1939.02,
which was a petition to terminate the parental rights of the
father and A.C. to S.W., whose date of birth is March 20,
2015. Following the consolidated trial, the juvenile court
entered a judgment terminating the parental rights of the
father and the unknown mother of the child. The father filed
a postjudgment motion on April 27, 2019; that motion was
denied on May 9, 2019. The juvenile court also entered a
separate judgment terminating the parental rights of the
father and A.C. to S.W. Although the father did not appeal
the judgment terminating his parental rights to S.W., some
information pertaining to S.W. is included in the recitation
of the facts below for background purposes.
judgment terminating parental rights must be supported by
clear and convincing evidence, which is
"'"[e]vidence that, when weighed against
evidence in opposition, will produce in the mind of the trier
of fact a firm conviction as to each essential element of the
claim and a high probability as to the correctness of the
conclusion."'" C.O. v. Jefferson Cty.
Dep't of Human Res., 206 So.3d 621, 627 (Ala.
Civ. App. 2016) (quoting L.M. v. D.D.F., 840 So.2d
171, 179 (Ala. Civ. App. 2002), quoting in turn Ala. Code
1975, § 6-11-20(b)(4)).
"'[T]he evidence necessary for appellate affirmance
of a judgment based on a factual finding in the context of a
case in which the ultimate standard for a factual decision by
the trial court is clear and convincing evidence is evidence
that a fact-finder reasonably could find to clearly and
convincingly ... establish the fact sought to be proved.'
"KGS Steel[, Inc. v. McInish, ] 47 So.3d 
at 761 [(Ala. Civ. App. 2006)].
"... [F]or trial courts ruling on motions for a summary
judgment in civil cases to which a
clear-and-convincing-evidence standard of proof applies,
'the judge must view the evidence presented through the
prism of the substantive evidentiary burden'; thus, the
appellate court must also look through a prism to determine
whether there was substantial evidence before the trial court
to support a factual finding, based upon the trial
court's weighing of the evidence, that would 'produce
in the mind [of the trial court] a firm conviction as to each
element of the claim and a high probability as to the
correctness of the conclusion.'"
Ex parte McInish, 47 So.3d 767, 778 (Ala. 2008).
This court does not reweigh the evidence but, rather,
determines whether the findings of fact made by the juvenile
court are supported by evidence that the juvenile court could
have found to be clear and convincing. See Ex parte
T.V., 971 So.2d 1, 9 (Ala. 2007). When those findings
rest on ore tenus evidence, this court presumes their
correctness. Id. We review the legal conclusions to
be drawn from the ...