S.M. v. Fla. Dep’t of Children & FamiliesAnnotate this Case
The Department of Children and Families (DCF) filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of Mother to her three children. Although Mother conceded that grounds for termination of parental rights had been met, she challenged whether termination was the least restrictive means of protecting the children from harm. The court terminated Mother’s parental rights, concluding that DCF had proven grounds for termination as well as that termination was in the manifest best interest of the children. The Court of Appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the least restrictive means prong enunciated in Padgett v. Dep’t of Heath & Rehab. Servs. does not require the trial court to consider a permanent guardianship, instead of adoption, after the grounds for termination have been established and it has been determined that reunification with the parent would be harmful to the child; and (2) to the extent C.D. v. Fla. Dep’t of Children & Families could be read as prohibiting termination of parental rights if there is any emotional bond between the parent and child and there is another permanency option that would protect the child from harm, the Court disapproves the decision.