DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/29/2012.
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: RANKIN COUNTY CHANCERY COURT. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JOHN S. GRANT III. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: TERMINATED PATERNAL RIGHTS AND SUPPORT OBLIGATION.
FOR APPELLANT: GERALD TALMADGE BRADDOCK, MICHAEL ELIAS WINFIELD.
FOR APPELLEE: J. EDWARD RAINER, GARY LEE WILLIAMS.
BEFORE LEE, C.J., MAXWELL AND FAIR, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, ROBERTS, CARLTON AND FAIR, JJ., CONCUR. JAMES, J., NOT PARTICIPATING.
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - DOMESTIC RELATIONS
[¶1] While the rights of a parent are fundamental, they are not absolute. By statute, a parent may lose his parental rights if he fails to make any contact with his child for more than a year or causes his relationship with his child to substantially erode, at least in part, through his own serious neglect, prolonged and unreasonable absence, or unreasonable failure to visit or communicate. 
[¶2] This is exactly what the chancellor found Thomas Barnes  had done, by clear and convincing evidence. Having initially refused to acknowledge his paternity and only visiting his daughter three to five times when she was an infant, Thomas stopped all contact, including support payments, when she was two and a half. Thus, when she was almost six-the time of the hearing to terminate his parental rights-what little relationship he had with her had completely eroded through his prolonged absence and failure to communicate.
[¶3] Because credible proof exists to support the chancellor's finding by clear and convincing evidence that there were not only grounds to terminate, but also termination was in the best interest of the child, we affirm the chancellor's judgment terminating all of Thomas's parental rights and support obligations to his daughter.
[¶4] When Thomas was thirty-six, he had what the chancellor described as a " brief romantic relationship" with twenty-year-old Katie McGee. Katie ...