Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: In re R. L. Vincent, Minor
This case returns to this Court after remand to the trial court. We affirmed the trial court’s determination that two statutory grounds supported termination but vacated its best-interest determination and remanded for further consideration of that issue, including whether termination was appropriate given the child’s placement with relatives. We conclude that the trial court did not clearly err in finding that termination of respondent’s parental rights is in the child’s best interests. Forensic psychologist Dr. Paul Kitchen testified that, even though the child was currently placed with relatives, termination was in the child’s best interest because of the child’s need for stability and permanency at his young age. Kitchen emphasized that adoption was not only preferable but crucial to the child because the child would form important bonds, his personality, and his ability to relate to others before the earliest date respondent would be released from prison. According to Kitchen, if the child “doesn’t form a bond now . . . it’s not gonna happen.” Furthermore, the record evidence demonstrates that the child has no bond with respondent. Upon respondent’s earliest release from prison, the child would be six years old and would not have seen respondent for about five and one-half years. Moreover, respondent did not comply with his court-ordered obligations: monthly letters to the child, child support, and participation in the “Angel Tree” program that serves children. Accordingly, we are not left with a definite and firm conviction that the trial court mistakenly determined that termination of respondent’s parental rights is in the child’s best interest. Affirmed.