Stay of Parental-Rights-Termination Proceedings Not Required Despite Parallel Criminal Proceeding

Ex parte M.M., [Ms. 2200645, 2200646, July 30, 2021] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2021). The court (Moore, J.; Thompson, P.J., and Edwards, Hanson, and Fridy, JJ., concur) denies the Father’s petitions for a writ of mandamus seeking a stay of proceedings to terminate his parental rights pending resolution of capital murder charges against him for killing the children’s Mother and her unborn child in the presence of the children. Quoting Ex parte Rawls, 953 So. 2d 374, 384-85 (Ala. 2006), the court explains that “[t]o justify a stay of a civil proceeding pending resolution of a criminal proceeding, the Fifth Amendment right of the party requesting the stay must outweigh the potential prejudice to the other party of granting the stay.” Ms. *13.

The court holds:

The testimony of Dr. Carney indicates that the children have experienced trauma that has led to a number of psychological and behavioral issues. He stated that the children are afraid of the father after experiencing traumatic loss and abuse at his hands. Dr. Carney testified that terminating the father’s parental rights would allow the children predictability and that delaying that sense of security for the children creates the possibility of long-term psychological and behavioral problems for them. He testified that a delay of the termination of the father’s parental rights by even a year “would more likely than not cause more problems for the children,” particularly with regard to their sense of security and permanency. Thus, contrary to the father’s assertions, the evidence does not support a finding that maintenance of the status quo, despite the present unavailability of an adoptive resource for the children, is in the children’s best interests.”

Ms. **18-19.

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