A very interesting case recently came down dictating that a father’s mental disability was enough to warrant the termination of his parental rights.  In the case of IRMO P. (Cal.Appl.4th)(CA 2/5 – Opinion filed February 13, 2013), Mother and Father, who were married, adopted a minor child.  Father had suffered mental illness prior to the marriage, but took medication that allowed him to function normally.  Father stopped taking his medication not long after the adoption, and his mental condition deteriorated to the point to where it was seriously impacting his relationship with Mother and the adopted child.  Restraining orders were issued.

Ultimately, after a violent confrontation with Father, Mother filed a petition for dissolution of the marriage and was awarded sole custody of minor.  According to Mother, after she and the minor moved out of state, Father suffered criminal conviction for attempted murder of his mother.

Mother filed petition to terminate Father’s parental rights pursuant to FC § 7827.  A psychiatrist and psychologist were appointed to examine Father and to prepare reports with their diagnoses and prognoses.  However, Mother later agreed with Father to dismiss her petition to terminate Father’s parental rights in exchange for Father’s agreement to undergo treatment and take medication for his mental illness.  Mother then allowed Father to reestablish a relationship with the minor.

Upon entering the stipulation, Father again refused to take his medication and his mental condition again deteriorated, causing Mother to reinstate her petition to terminate Father’s parental rights.  Two psychiatrists and a psychologist were appointed to evaluate Father’s mental condition.  They unanimously reported Father to be mentally disabled within the meaning of FC § 7827, and they said that if he continued to refuse his medical treatment recommendations he would remain disabled for the foreseeable future.  The trial court concluded the best interest of the minor would be served by terminating Father’s parental rights.  Father appealed and the appellate court confirmed the trial courts decision.

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