Oklahoma City Law Firm Of Brown & Gould

Oklahoma Supreme Court Affirms the Termination of Mother’s Parental Rights; Drug Use Cited as a Reason


Earlier this year, the Oklahoma Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s decision to terminate the parental rights of a Tulsa County mother. An infant girl was removed from the care of her parents  a few weeks after she was born. In June of 2016, a Tulsa Police Department officer pulled over the mother in this case after he observed that her vehicle had expired tags. While impounding the car, officers conducted a field test that indicated the presence of heroin residue in the vehicle. Upon questioning, the mother admitted to the officers that she had previously used heroin. She went on to argue she quit, after learning of her pregnancy. 

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) eventually ordered an assessment of the health of the infant.

During this assessment, the agency noted that the mother exhibited symptoms of continued heroin use — including falling asleep at strange times. DHS also observed that the infant was significantly underweight. Based on these conclusions, DHS moved to terminate her parental rights. They cited the mother’s alleged inability to provide adequate child care or a safe, stable home, and scheduled a hearing. However, the mother failed to attend the hearing. The Court terminated parental rights. The mother raised several issues on appeal.

Most notably, she argued that the court improperly denied her a continuance in its initial proceedings.

Ultimately, the Oklahoma Supreme Court found that the lower court made no irreversible errors. In parental termination proceedings, due process is clear about the mandates. A parent always has the right to defend themselves . The court ruled the mother’s right to raise a defense was not unlawfully impaired in this case. Her appeal was denied, and parental rights permanently revoked.

As noted by the Oklahoma City child custody attorneys at Brown & Gould, PLLC, “Oklahoma courts are generally reluctant to terminate parental rights. However; state law instructs courts to always act in the best interests of children. The court may determine that termination of parental rights is necessary, regarding certain factors. For instance, if the evidence suggests that a parent is unable to provide proper care of their child; parental rights are in jeopardy.  Custody may be awarded to another relative, or may be granted to the state.”

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Brown & Gould, PLLC,
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Oklahoma City, OK 73103
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The Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, law office of Brown & Gould, PLLC, serves the nearby cities of Moore, Norman, Edmond, Nichols Hills, Midwest City, Del City, Yukon, Mustang, El Reno, Shawnee, Tulsa and other areas, including Oklahoma County, Cleveland County, Canadian County, McClain County, Pottawatomie County, Tulsa County, Logan County and throughout the state of Texas in the cities of Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso and Austin.