IN RE KNOWLES/KELLOM/KOMELL-KNOWLES MINORSAnnotate this Case
STATE OF MICHIGAN
COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of TEQUILA J. KNOWLES, DAVID
CORTEZ KELLOM and MICHAEL D. KOMELLKNOWLES, Minors.
FAMILY INDEPENDENCE AGENCY,
November 24, 1998
Wayne Juvenile Court
LC No. 89-279418
WILLIE KELLOM and CHARLES R. DEAN,
Before: Griffin, P.J., and Gage and R. J. Danhof*, JJ.
Petitioner, Family Independence Agency, appeals by leave granted the order denying its petition
to terminate respondent-appellee’s parental rights to the three minor children. The trial court ruled that
petitioner failed to prove that termination was warranted under MCL 712A.19b(3)(c)(i); MSA
27.3178(598.19b)(3)(c)(i). We find that the juvenile court clearly erred in its determination that the
alleged ground for termination was not established by clear and convincing evidence. MCR 5.974(I),
In re Cornet, 422 Mich 274, 277; 373 NW2d 536 (1985); In re Miller, 433 Mich 331, 337; 445
NW2d 161 (1989). Accordingly, we reverse and remand for entry of an order terminating respondent
appellee’s parental rights to the three minor children.
* Former Court of Appeals judge, sitting on the Court of Appeals by assignment.
At the outset, we note that the trial court was required to consider all hearings in this case as a
single continuous proceeding. MCR 5.974(F)(2); In re LaFlure, 48 Mich App 377, 390-391; 210
NW2d 482 (1973). Here, uncontested evidence was presented at previous hearings showing that
respondent-appellee was mildly mentally retarded. Thus, as to this particular issue, the trial court erred
to the extent that it held that termination of parental rights was precluded because petitioner failed to
present additional proofs at the termination hearing regarding the extent of respondent-appellee’s mental
condition as it relates to her ability to care for the minor children.
Turning to the specific statutory ground for termination alleged in the petition, we conclude that
clear and convincing evidence was presented to establish the alleged statutory ground for termination
under MCL 712A.19b(3)(c)(i); MSA 27.3178(598.19b)(3)(c)(i), and that the trial court clearly erred
in finding otherwise. Under § 19b(3)(c)(i), parental rights may be terminated if 182 days have elapsed
since the issuance of the initial dispositional order, the conditions that led to the adjudication continue to
exist, and there is no reasonable likelihood that the conditions will be rectified within a reasonable time
considering the ages of the children. The determination of what is a reasonable time properly includes
both how long it will take for the parent to improve conditions and how long the child can wait for the
improvement. In re Dahms, 187 Mich App 644, 647-648; 468 NW2d 315 (1991).
In this case, the two older children became temporary wards of the court in 1989 as a result of
neglect by respondent-appellee. The evidence presented by petitioner at trial indicated that respondent
appellee’s alcohol and substance abuse problems had not substantially changed over a nine-year period,
despite the fact that respondent-appellee had been provided with numerous services, and had
participated in numerous substance abuse treatment programs, all of which were unsuccessful. Although
respondent-appellee was required to abstain from using drugs or alcohol under the terms of her
parent/agency agreement, the evidence showed that she frequently submitted positive drug and alcohol
screens, and indeed admitted that she drank a 32-ounce bottle of beer just three days before the
termination hearing. Further, the record established that unsupervised visits with the minor children had
been stopped precisely because respondent-appellee continued to test positive for alcohol and/or
marijuana use. Testimony also indicated that respondent-appellee appeared intoxicated when she
arrived for visits. When considering the length of respondent-appellee’s substance abuse history and
the numerous unsuccessful attempts at rehabilitation, it was not reasonably likely that respondent
appellee would be able to rectify the conditions that led to adjudication within a reasonable time
considering the ages of the children. In re Conley, 216 Mich App 41, 43-44; 549 NW2d 353 (1996);
In re Jackson, 199 Mich App 22, 27; 501 NW2d 182 (1993); In re Dahms, supra.
Finally, respondent-appellee failed to show that termination of her parental rights was clearly not
in the children’s best interests. Therefore, termination of respondent-appellee’s parental rights to the
children was required under MCL 712A.19b(5); MSA 27.3178(598.19b)(5). In re Hall-Smith, 222
Mich App 470; 564 NW2d 156 (1997).
Reversed and remanded for entry of an order terminating respondent-appellee’s parental rights.
We do not retain jurisdiction.
/s/ Richard Allen Griffin
/s/ Hilda R. Gage
/s/ Robert J. Danhof