Norman S. v. Department of Child Safety, N.S., 082919 AZAPP1, 1 CA-JV 19-0049

Docket Nº:1 CA-JV 19-0049
Opinion Judge:BROWN, Judge
Party Name:NORMAN S., Appellant, v. DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SAFETY, N.S., Appellees.
Attorney:Maricopa County Legal Defender's Office, Phoenix By Jamie R. Heller Counsel for Appellant Arizona Attorney General's Office, Phoenix By Thomas Jose Counsel for Appellee, Department of Child Safety
Judge Panel:Presiding Judge Michael J. Brown delivered the decision of the Court, in which Judge Kent E. Cattani and Chief Judge Peter B. Swann joined.
Case Date:August 29, 2019
Court:Court of Appeals of Arizona

NORMAN S., Appellant,

v.

DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SAFETY, N.S., Appellees.

No. 1 CA-JV 19-0049

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

August 29, 2019

Not for Publication - Rule 111(c), Rules of the Arizona Supreme Court

Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. JD 531037 The Honorable Karen L. O'Connor, Judge

Maricopa County Legal Defender's Office, Phoenix By Jamie R. Heller Counsel for Appellant

Arizona Attorney General's Office, Phoenix By Thomas Jose Counsel for Appellee, Department of Child Safety

Presiding Judge Michael J. Brown delivered the decision of the Court, in which Judge Kent E. Cattani and Chief Judge Peter B. Swann joined.

MEMORANDUM DECISION

BROWN, Judge

¶1 Norman S. ("Father") appeals the superior court's order terminating his parental rights to his son, N.S., born in 2017. Because reasonable evidence supports the court's order, we affirm.

BACKGROUND

¶2 When N.S. was born, Amanda H. ("Mother") had a pending dependency with three of her other children, I.H., M.H., and B.H.1 DCS had provided Mother in-home family preservation services until July 2017, at which time DCS filed an in-home dependency petition for I.H., M.H., and B.H. and established a safety plan for Mother. After Mother gave birth to N.S., she violated the safety plan and was not fully participating in services, so DCS took all four children into temporary custody.

¶3 DCS then filed a dependency petition alleging N.S. was dependent as to Father due to substance abuse, domestic violence, and neglect. Although Father contested the allegations, he failed to appear for the dependency hearing and the juvenile court found N.S. dependent.

¶4 In July 2018, DCS moved to terminate Father's parental rights to N.S. on the grounds of substance abuse, six months' out-of-home placement, and nine months' out-of-home placement. DCS asserted that (1) Father "has a history of substance abuse that includes but is not limited to marijuana and it negatively impacts his ability to parent;" (2) "[significant concerns remain regarding the serious domestic violence relationship" between Father and Mother; and (3) Father inconsistently engaged in the services DCS offered. DCS filed an amended motion in January 2019 that included the ground of fifteen months' time-in-care, stating in part that the parents continue to engage domestic violence.

¶5 The following month the juvenile court held a termination hearing at which DCS presented numerous exhibits and the testimony of one witness - DCS case specialist Sandra Butler. The court later granted the motion for termination, finding that DCS proved each of the alleged grounds and that termination was in N.S.'s best interests. Father timely appealed.

DISCUSSION

¶6 To terminate parental rights, a court must find (1) by clear and convincing evidence one of the statutory grounds articulated in A.R.S. § 8-533(B), and (2) by a preponderance of the evidence that termination is in the child's best interests. Kent K. v. Bobby M., 210 Ariz. 279, 284, ¶ 22 (2005). We will affirm an order terminating parental rights if it is supported by reasonable evidence. Jordan C. v. Ariz. Dept of Econ. Sec., 223 Ariz. 86, 93, ¶ 18 (App. 2009). As the trier of fact, "[t]he juvenile court is in the best position to weigh the evidence, observe the parties, judge the credibility of witnesses, and make appropriate findings." Christina G. v. Ariz. Dept of Econ. Sec., 227 Ariz. 231, 234, ¶ 13 (App. 2011). We therefore view the evidence "in the light most favorable to sustaining the court's decision." Jordan C, 223 Ariz. at 93, ¶ 18 (citation omitted).

A. Fifteen Months' Out-of-Home Placement

¶7 To terminate on the fifteen months' ground, DCS was required to prove (1) the child was in an out-of-home placement for a cumulative period of 15 months or longer; (2) it made a "diligent...

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