In termination of parental rights cases, substantial compliance is about effort, not outcome

The Tennessee Court of Appeals recently reiterated that, when analyzing whether a parent substantially complied with DCS permanency plans, a trial court should focus on effort instead of outcome.  In the case, the mother completed each task in the first and second permanency plan.  Concerning the third plan, the mother finished substance abuse treatment at Bradford and passed a hair follicle drug screen.  While she still had substance abuse and mental health issues that affected the best interest determination, the court stated that these issues are not the focus for substantial compliance.  Rather, effort is the focus for substantial compliance, and given the mother’s efforts over a two-year period, the appellate court reversed the trial court and held that the mother substantially complied with DCS’s permanency plans.

In Re: Zane W., No. E2016-02224-COA-R3-PT (Tenn. Ct. App. July 6, 2017)

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