In re Sophia-Marie H.Annotate this Case
Respondent Sophia-Marie H's father appealed a circuit court order that terminated his parental rights. He argued the evidence presented at trial did not support the court's findings that (1) he failed to support, educate and care for the child; and (2) that termination of his rights was in Sophia-Marie's best interests. Sophia-Marie’s guardian ad litem (GAL) submitted a detailed final report that recommended that the termination petition be denied. At the hearing, the GAL testified that this was not an easy decision: the father appeared to be a changed man and "made an effort to turn his life around [and] he want[ed] to be involved in [his] daughter's life." To the extent that the court relied upon the father's failure to pay child support during his incarceration as evidence that the mother met her burden, the Supreme Court concluded this was error. The GAL testified that if termination was ordered, Sophia-Marie would miss out on having a relationship with her father. For these reasons, the Supreme Court concluded the trial court erred in finding termination of the father's parental rights was necessary.