Skip to main content
Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Mar. 4, 201412:00 PM EST

Appeals court overturns DCF on Duval inmate's parental rights


In a strongly worded opinion, the 1st District Court of Appeal on Monday rejected an attempt by the state Department of Children and Families to terminate the parental rights of a man imprisoned for fourth-offense driving under the influence.

The Duval County case focused on a man, identified only by the initials S.B., who worked as a plumber and supported three daughters and their half-brother. He began serving a prison sentence in February 2012 after being convicted for the fourth time of driving under the influence.

Three months later, the daughters were taken from their mother, whose parental rights were eventually terminated for failing to appear at a hearing. The three daughters and their half-brother were placed in separate foster homes, and DCF petitioned for termination of the man's parental rights in August 2013.

The agency based that position on the man's criminal history and what it called a failure to maintain a relationship with the children while in prison. But a three-judge panel took issue with the agency's conclusion, saying there was "no testimony that reuniting these children with their father would be harmful" to them.

"DCF did not allege appellant (the father) was ever violent, or that he endangered the children in any way,'' said the opinion, written by Judge Robert Benton and joined by judges Philip Padovano and Clayton Roberts. "DCF did not allege that he neglected his children, abandoned them, or ever failed to provide shelter or food for them while he lived with them. DCF presented no evidence of any failure to provide for the children’s developmental, cognitive, psychological, or physical needs, until he was imprisoned."

Be the first to know the latest breaking news and information that business leaders rely on in this fast-paced changing Northeast Florida economy. Regional business news, trends and statistics needed to grow your business. Key upcoming events you won’t want to miss and much more. Click Here to Grow your Business NOW!

Related Stories