No Tolling of Time a Child Has Been in Foster Care Where Trial Court Fails to Rule on Motion to Review Goal Change; Delay in Petitioning for TPR Is Relevant to Reasonable Efforts at Reunification – Published Opinion from Supreme Court of Ky.

Cabinet for Health & Fam. Servs., Com. v. H.L.O.

Letcher Circuit Court

Questions Presented: Termination of Parental Rights. Calculation of Time Spent in Out-of-Home Care. Reviewing the Court of Appeals’ reversal of the trial court’s judgment terminating parental rights, the Court finds there was substantial evidence in the record to support the trial court’s findings and reinstates the judgment.

Mother argued that Family Court erred in terminating her parental rights by erroneously finding that Child had been in the custody of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (“the Cabinet”) for 15 of the preceding 48 months, where the Cabinet delayed petitioning to terminate Mother’s parental rights for nearly a year, and Family Court failed to rule on Mother’s motion to review a goal change. The Supreme Court of Kentucky held that the test for determining when the calculation of time a child has been in foster care begins is when the first order granting the Cabinet custody is entered, and there is no statute or prior precedent that tolls this time when a parent moves the court to review a goal change. However, the delay in petitioning to terminate Mother’s parental rights, while not relevant to the calculation of time Child was in foster case, is relevant to determining whether the Cabinet made reasonable efforts at reunification and the best interests of the child analysis.

Digested by Nathan R. Hardymon

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