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Frank P. v. Sabrina H.

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division, Department D

October 22, 2013

FRANK P., Appellant,
v.
SABRINA H., DANIEL H., J.P., Appellees.

Not for Publication -Rule 28, Arizona Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure

Appeal from the Superior Court in Mohave County Cause No. S8015AD201200070 The Honorable Richard Weiss, Judge.

Mohave County Legal Defender's Office Kingman By Diane S. McCoy, Deputy Legal Defender, Attorneys for Appellant, Frank P.

Law Office of Michele Holden, P.L.L.C. Kingman By Michele Holden, Attorneys for Appellees, Sabrina H. and Daniel H.

MEMORANDUM DECISION

DONN KESSLER, Judge.

¶1 Frank P. ("Father") appeals the juvenile court's order severing his parental rights to his son, J.P., for abandonment pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes ("A.R.S.") section 8-533(B)(1) (Supp. 2012).[1] For the following reasons, we affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2 J.P. is the son of Father and Sabrina H. ("Mother").[2] Father and Mother have never been married to each other. Daniel H. is Mother's current husband.

¶3 Father, Mother, and J.P. moved from Massachusetts to Arizona in April 2005, when J.P. was approximately six months old. In September of that year, Mother kicked Father out of the house, apparently because he fell asleep while he was supposed to be watching J.P. and because Father "had four jobs in four months." Thereafter, Father returned to Massachusetts.

¶4 Father has maintained minimal contact with J.P. since returning to Massachusetts. Father has not seen J.P. since September 2005. Father offered to bring J.P. to Massachusetts via bus when J.P. was five years old, but Mother refused. Father has never visited J.P. since departing Arizona. Over the years, Father sent J.P. two gifts and no cards. Father has maintained infrequent telephone contact with J.P., [3] which Father attributed to Mother's and Daniel H.'s interference. Mother testified that she deliberately declined to answer Father's phone calls "[a]bout eight or ten times." However, Father failed to take any legal action to secure visitation rights.

¶5 Father provided financial support for J.P. in the form of child support payments. He has relied on Social Security since he was five or six years old and currently receives Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income. Father has been paying child support since at least early 2007. Child support is garnished directly from his Social Security payments. Both Mother and Father testified, however, that Father is approximately $10, 000 in arrears in child support, despite the lack of any record of an order awarding child support.

¶6 Daniel H.'s relationship with J.P. approximates a traditional father-son relationship. He attends J.P.'s football games, spends time with J.P. teaching him how to shoot, and treats J.P. as his "own child." J.P. also has a relationship with Daniel H.'s family.

¶7 In August 2012, Mother and Daniel H. filed a petition to sever Father's parental rights and a petition for adoption. The petition to sever alleged that Father abandoned his parental rights. The juvenile court ordered a social study to determine whether Daniel H. is fit and proper to adopt J.P. The study "recommended that the [petition to sever] be granted so that Daniel [H.] may adopt [J.P]." Father opposed the petition to sever his parental rights and the petition for adoption.

¶8 After Mother and Daniel H. filed a financial statement demonstrating financial need, the juvenile court appointed counsel to represent them in subsequent proceedings. The court also appointed counsel to represent Father and counsel to represent J.P. Thereafter, the Mohave County Attorney withdrew as counsel for Mother and Daniel H. Father never objected to the appointment of counsel for Mother and Daniel H., and never ...


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