JOSE R. v. DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SAFETY

No. 1 CA-JV 16-0473.

JOSE R., Appellant, v. DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SAFETY, J.R., Appellees.

Court of Appeals of Arizona, Division One.


Attorney(s) appearing for the Case

Vierling Law Offices, Phoenix, By Thomas A. Vierling , Counsel for Appellant.

Arizona Attorney General's Office, Mesa, By Nicholas Chapman-Hushek , Counsel for Appellee DCS.

Judge Donn Kessler delivered the decision of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Margaret H. Downie and Judge Kenton D. Jones joined.


NOT FOR OFFICIAL PUBLICATION

UNDER ARIZONA RULE OF THE SUPREME COURT 111(c), THIS DECISION IS NOT PRECEDENTIAL AND MAY BE CITED ONLY AS AUTHORIZED BY RULE.

MEMORANDUM DECISION

KESSLER, Judge.

¶1 Appellant Jose R. ("Father") appeals the juvenile court's termination of his parental rights. For the following reasons, we affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2 Father and Londa G. ("Mother")1 are the biological parents of JR, born November 2006. The Department of Child Safety ("DCS") filed a dependency action in May 2015 against Father after he left JR with his paternal grandmother so that Father could turn himself into police on an outstanding warrant. JR was taken into DCS custody in May 2015 and was found dependent as to Father in January 2016.

¶3 Initially, DCS was unable to locate Father, and the DCS case manager first came into contact with Father in late June 2015. Her contact with Father since then has been very limited.

¶4 Father was reincarcerated in September 2015. Father's estimated release date is in June 2019, at which point JR will be approximately fourteen years old. Father has not sent JR any cards, gifts, or letters and has not requested any personal contact with JR. Father testified he did not want to send JR letters because he was not allowed to say they would be together soon, although he was aware he could send letters.

¶5 The case manager testified that Father's relationship with JR before his most recent incarceration was minimal. JR has never requested visits with Father. As of the October 2016 severance hearing, Father's last contact with JR was in October 2015.

¶6 After a hearing, the juvenile court severed Father's rights as to JR on grounds of abandonment, length of incarceration, and time in an out-of-home placement. Father timely appealed. We have jurisdiction under Arizona Revised Statutes ("A.R.S.") sections 8-235(A) (2014) and 12-120.21(A)(1) (2016).2

DISCUSSION

¶7 To terminate parental rights, the juvenile court must find, by clear and convincing evidence, at least one of the statutory grounds set out in A.R.S. § 8-533(B). See A.R.S. § 8-533(B) (2016); Michael J. v. Ariz. Dep't of Econ. Sec., 196 Ariz. 246, 249, ¶ 12 (2000). It must also find DCS has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that termination is in the best interests of the child. Kent K. v. Bobby M., 210 Ariz. 279, 284, ¶ 22 (2005). We will review the juvenile court's record in the light most favorable to sustaining the court's decision and will affirm unless we must say, as a matter of law, that no one could reasonably find the evidence supporting statutory grounds for termination to be clear and convincing. Denise R. v. Ariz. Dep't of Econ. Sec., 221 Ariz. 92, 95, ¶ 10 (App. 2009) (citations and quotations omitted). We will affirm the juvenile court's severance order "absent an abuse of discretion or unless the court's findings of fact were clearly erroneous." E.R. v. Dep't of Child Safety, 237 Ariz. 56, 58, ¶ 9 (App. 2015) (citations and quotations omitted).

¶8 Father does not challenge any of the statutory grounds for termination, but asserts only that the juvenile court erred in finding that severance was in JR's best interests. To establish that severance of a parent's rights would be in a child's best interests, "the court must find either that the child will benefit from termination of the relationship or that the child would be harmed by continuation of the parental relationship." James S. v. Ariz. Dep't of Econ. Sec., 193 Ariz. 351, 356, ¶ 18 (App. 1998) (citation omitted). In making this determination, the juvenile court may consider evidence that the child is adoptable or that an existing placement is meeting the needs of the child. Mary Lou C. v. Ariz. Dep't of Econ. Sec., 207 Ariz. 43, 50, ¶ 19 (App. 2004) (citations omitted).

¶9 Reasonable evidence supports the juvenile court's findings. The case manager testified that JR's current placement is meeting all his needs. She noted that JR is thriving in his current placement and excelling in both academics and sports. JR's placement also allows frequent contact with his half-brother. The juvenile court found that JR is adoptable and would benefit by having an adoptive placement that would provide him a permanent, safe home.

¶10 Father argues the juvenile court "did not give sufficient weight to the fact that [JR] and Father have a number of years to have a normal relationship together." Essentially, Father is asking us to reweigh the evidence. However, "the resolution of conflicts in the evidence is uniquely the province of the juvenile court, and we will not reweigh the evidence in our review." Jennifer S. v. Dep't of Child Safety, 240 Ariz. 282, 287, ¶ 16 (App. 2016) (citation omitted); see Maricopa Cty. Juv. Action No. JS-501568, 177 Ariz. 571, 577 (App. 1994) (citation omitted) ("Leaving the window of opportunity for remediation open indefinitely is not necessary, nor do we think that it is in the child's or the parent's best interests.").

CONCLUSION

¶11 For the reasons stated above, we affirm the termination of Father's parental rights as to JR.

FootNotes


1. Mother is no longer a party to this appeal. She was dismissed as a party by a March 3, 2017 order of this Court after her counsel found no non-frivolous issues to raise.
2. We cite to the current version of statutes unless changes material to this decision have since occurred.

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