Mereisa Cleveland McDaniel v. Harrisonsburg Rockingham Social Services District


COURT OF APPEALS OF VIRGINIA Present: Judges Petty, Athey and Senior Judge Clements UNPUBLISHED MEREISA CLEVELAND McDANIEL v. Record No. 1341-20-3 HARRISONBURG ROCKINGHAM SOCIAL SERVICES DISTRICT MEMORANDUM OPINION* MEREISA CLEVELAND McDANIEL PER CURIAM JULY 20, 2021 v. Record No. 1342-20-3 HARRISONBURG ROCKINGHAM SOCIAL SERVICES DISTRICT FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF ROCKINGHAM COUNTY Clark A. Ritchie, Judge (A. Hunter Jackson; Evans Oliver, PLC, on brief), for appellant. Appellant submitting on brief. (Sheila K. Paladino, Assistant County Attorney; Danita S. Alt, Guardian ad litem for the minor children, on brief), for appellee. Appellee and Guardian ad litem submitting on brief. Mereisa Cleveland McDaniel (father) appeals the circuit court’s orders terminating his parental rights to his two children, M.N.M. and M.C.M. Father argues that the circuit court erred in terminating his parental rights under Code § 16.1-283(C)(2) because he had substantially remedied the conditions that led to or required the continuation of the children’s placement in foster care. Father further asserts that the circuit court erred in terminating his parental rights under Code § 16.1-283(E)(i) because termination was not in the children’s best interests. Upon reviewing the * Pursuant to Code § 17.1-413, this opinion is not designated for publication. record and briefs of the parties, we conclude that the circuit court did not err. Accordingly, we affirm the decision of the circuit court. BACKGROUND1 “On appeal from the termination of parental rights, this Court is required to review the evidence in the light most favorable to the party prevailing in the circuit court.” Yafi v. Stafford Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 69 Va. App. 539, 550-51 (2018) (quoting Thach v. Arlington Cnty. Dep’t of Hum. Servs., 63 Va. App. 157, 168 (2014)). Father’s parental rights to two older children had been involuntarily terminated in 2010, and father “didn’t want anything to do with those kids then.” The Harrisonburg Rockingham Social Services District (HRSSD) had provided two years of extensive services to father before that termination. Father is the biological father to M.N.M., a five-year-old minor child, and M.C.M., a four-year-old minor child.2 On May 3, 2017, HRSSD petitioned the Rockingham County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court (the JDR court) for protective orders on behalf of M.N.M. and M.C.M. HRSSD alleged that the children were at risk of being abused or neglected because of domestic violence between the parents, the condition of the home, and the biological mother’s mental health. HRSSD’s safety plan removed the biological mother from father’s home. The JDR 1 The record in these cases was sealed. Nevertheless, these appeals necessitate unsealing relevant portions of the record to resolve the issues appellant has raised. Evidence and factual findings below that are necessary to address the assignments of error are included in this opinion. Consequently, “[t]o the extent that this opinion mentions facts found in the sealed record, we unseal only those specific facts, finding them relevant to the decision in this case. The remainder of the previously sealed record remains sealed.” Levick v. MacDougall, 294 Va. 283, 288 n.1 (2017). …

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