Somewhere Between Henderson and M.M.: TPR’ing for Poverty

The trial court found that the Father breached his case plan in four material aspects: (1) intentionally absconding to Oklahoma, (2) concealing the fact of his relocation to Oklahoma, (3) failing to obtain approved housing, and (4) continuing to neglect N.R.-G. despite the completion of parenting classes. Because these breaches did not pose any danger to N.R.-G.’s well-being and safety and were attributable to the Father’s lack of financial resources and the Department’s failure to provide services, we conclude they are not sufficient to support a finding that the Father failed to substantially comply with his case plan.

As with the mother in Henderson, the Father’s inability to maintain adequate housing was due to factors beyond his control. The evidence established that he was consistently employed, and there was no dispute that he was earning the best salary he could with a fourth-grade education and his language limitations. And, unlike the mother in M.M., there was no evidence that the Father was lackadaisical in his efforts. In fact, he tried within his limited means to provide safe housing for the children, he went through the effort of obtaining private counsel, and he sacrificed a job in Oklahoma to return to Florida to defend his parental rights.

In re N.R.-G., — So.3d —-, 2012 WL 1448511 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2012).


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