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Texas Court Terminates
Nepali Mother’s Parental Rights

English to Nepali Interpreting Services in Termination of Parental Rights Case

We’ve blogged before about the importance of certified translation services for child custody, divorce, and related family court proceedings by certified legal translators.  In In the Interest of C.K., N.K., C.K., R.K, and N.K, a Texas court of appeals decided whether the trial court had properly terminated the parental rights of a Nepalese mother. In this case, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (“Department”) filed papers seeking to terminate the mother’s parental rights. The mother, who spoke Nepali, failed to appear at the trial. The mother’s attorney informed the court that he had tried to locate her in anticipation of trial but was unable to do so and thus, was not ready for trial. The judge proceeded with the trial despite the mother’s absence.

During the trial, a representative from the Department testified that the children were removed from their parents’ care after the youngest child became paralyzed following an accident in the parking lot of their apartment complex. The child, who was 4 at the time, had been left unsupervised in the parking lot. On another occasion, a one year old child was left outside unsupervised. In addition, the children’s parents resided in separate units in the apartment complex and the children were allowed to roam unsupervised between the two units.
In response to these events, the Department enacted a “service plan,” written in English, which consisted of certain things the mother was required to do in order to be reunited with her children. The Department engaged the services of an English to Nepali interpreter to explain the plan to the mother in Nepali. The representative testified at trial that the mother appeared to understand the requirements of the service plan because she asked a lot of questions during the meeting with the aid worker about the service plan. In addition, an interpreter was present during the counseling services the mother attended. The legal worker and the mother also communicated through a Nepali interpreter through various court proceedings as well as during visits.

English to Nepali Interpreting of Service Plan to Reunite with Children

At trial, the Department’s legal worker testified that she did not believe that the mother was able to care for her children. The legal worker testified that she was concerned that the mother had a problem with alcohol and that the mother did not have a stable residence. In addition, the evidence established that the mother was involved with a man who abused her repeatedly, and had refused the assistance of a battered women’s shelter. In addition, although the mother was allowed visitation while the children were separated from her, she did not take full advantage of visiting her children. At first, the visits were regular, but they became inconsistent once the mother did not have a place to live.
At the conclusion of the trial, the court granted the Department’s motion to terminate the mother’s parental rights on the grounds that she had failed to complete the service plan. The mother subsequently appealed. The mother argued that the evidence presented to the trial court was insufficient to support a termination of parental rights because the service plan was written in English, not Nepali, and the trial witnesses testified that they had concerns about her ability to understand and comprehend the requirements.

On appeal, the court held that there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s finding that it was in the children’s best interest to terminate their mother’s parental rights. In arriving at this decision, the court considered the fact that the mother was in an abusive relationship, did not have stable housing, and had not visited her children in eight months. The court also found that the mother had failed to complete any of the requirements necessary to demonstrate that she had the ability to be a responsible parent. With regard to the mother’s language complaint, the court held that the evidence established that an interpreter was present when the Department explained the service plan to the mother and the mother had the name and phone number of the entity responsible for arranging the services in Nepali. In addition, the court found that the mother had demonstrated an understanding of the requirements under the service plan as she asked questions and began to participate in services. Finally, the court noted that the mother had failed to appear for trial and was unable to be located by her attorney.

The case is In the Interest of C.K., N.K., B.K., N.K., Court No 04-17-00034-CV, decided on June 28, 2017 by the Fourth Court of Appeals San Antonio, Texas.

Contact All Language Alliance, Inc. to obtain certified document translation services in Chinese, Nepali, Russian, Spanish, French, Turkish, Dutch, and other languages and to retain experienced deposition interpreters and lawyer speak translators for family law matters.

 

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