Not for Publication – Rule 111(c), Rules of the Arizona Supreme Court
Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. JS507260 The Honorable James P. Beene, Judge
Robert D. Rosanelli Attorney at Law, Phoenix By Robert D. Rosanelli Counsel for Appellant
Lori B., Mesa Appellee In Propria Persona
Judge Michael J. Brown delivered the decision of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Andrew W. Gould and Judge Donn Kessler joined.
MICHAEL J. BROWN JUDGE
¶1 Kristopher B. ("Father") appeals the juvenile court's order terminating his parental rights to his daughter ("the child"). For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court's severance order.
¶2 Father and Lori B. ("Mother") are the unmarried parents of the child, who was born in 2005. Father was present at the birth, and he and Mother and the child lived in California together for about two months before moving to Arizona, where they lived with Mother's relatives for three months. Father and Mother ended their relationship in 2006. Afterwards, Father remained in Arizona for approximately two and a half years, visiting the child every two weeks for about eighteen months.
¶3 Father's visitation with the child ended in 2008 when Mother obtained an order of protection arising out of an incident at an Easter church service. On that day, Mother had arranged for Father to visit with the child. However, when Father did not arrive on time, Mother decided to take the child to an Easter service at her church. Father then came to Mother's church looking for her and "screaming" her name. When Mother prepared to leave, Father attempted to pursue her. From this incident, Mother was able to obtain the order of protection, which prohibited Father from contacting her or the child.
¶4 Roughly a year later, Father left Arizona to assist his ailing mother in California. During the same year, Mother married Christopher P. In September 2012, Mother filed a petition seeking to terminate Father's parental rights based on abandonment of the child. Following a contested severance hearing, the court found that "Father ha[d] not seen or visited with the minor child in four and one-half (4.5) years, . . . Father did not attempt to obtain legal custody or parenting time with the minor child, " nor did he "attempt to locate Mother or the minor child by contacting [Mother's relatives]." The court therefore concluded that due to Father's lack of contact and failure to financially provide for the child since 2008, Mother had proven by clear and convincing evidence that Father abandoned the child. The court also determined it was in the best interests of the child to sever Father's parental rights. Father timely appealed.
¶5 We review an order terminating a parent's relationship with his or her child for an abuse of discretion and will affirm if it is supported by sufficient evidence in the record. Kenneth B. v. Tina B., 226 Ariz. 33, 36, ¶ 12, 243 P.3d 636, 639 (App. 2010). "A juvenile court as the trier of fact in a termination proceeding is in the best position to weigh the evidence, observe the parties, judge the credibility of witnesses, and resolve disputed facts." Ariz. Dep't of Econ. Sec. v. Oscar O., 209 Ariz. 332, 334, ¶ 4, 100 P.3d 943, 945 (App. 2004). Therefore, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to sustaining the juvenile court's ruling. Michael J. v. Ariz. Dep't of Econ. Sec, 196 Ariz. 246, 250, ¶ 20, 995 P.2d 682, 686 (2000).
¶6 The juvenile court may terminate a parent-child relationship if it finds the petitioner has established one of the statutory grounds by clear and convincing evidence. Ariz. Rev. Stat. ("A.R.S.") § 8-537(B); Kent K. v. Bobby M., 210 Ariz. 279, 281-82, ¶ 7, 110 P.3d 1013, 1015-16 (2005). The court must also find by a preponderance of the evidence that termination would be in the child's best interests. Kent ...