Opinion of the Court of Appeals, Division One. 235 Ariz. 388, 332 P.3d 614 (App. 2014) . Appeal from the Superior Court in Mohave County. The Honorable Richard Weiss, Judge. No. AD201200034.
Heather C. Wellborn, Law Offices of Heather C. Wellborn, P.C., Lake Havasu City, Attorney for Roberto F.
Mark Brnovich, Arizona Attorney General, John R. Lopez IV, Solicitor General, Amanda Adams, Assistant Attorney General, Mesa, Attorneys for Department of Child Safety.
Michele Holden, Law Office of Michele Holden, P.L.L.C., Kingman, Attorney for Tracie H. and Jimmy S.
JUSTICE TIMMER authored the opinion of the Court, in which CHIEF JUSTICE BALES, VICE CHIEF JUSTICE PELANDER and JUSTICES BERCH and BRUTINEL joined.
[¶1] We are asked to decide whether Arizona Rule of Procedure for Juvenile Court 103(F) divests the juvenile court of jurisdiction to enter an adoption order during the pendency of a biological parent's appeal from an order terminating his or her parental rights. We hold that it does not.
[¶2] Roberto F. (" Father" ) is the biological father of L.F. and I.A. In November 2011, the juvenile court terminated his parental rights, and he appealed (the " termination case" ). While the appeal was pending, and without providing notice to Father or alerting the court to his pending appeal, the Department of Child Safety (" DCS" ) petitioned the juvenile court to order the children's adoption by Jimmy S. and Tracie H. (the " adoption case" ). The court granted the
petition in May 2012 and entered an order of adoption.
[¶3] The court of appeals subsequently vacated the order entered in the termination case. Roberto F. v. Ariz. Dep't of Econ. Sec. (" Roberto I " ), 232 Ariz. 45, 47 ¶ 1, 301 P.3d 211, 213 (App. 2013), as amended (June 20, 2013). Father then moved the juvenile court to set aside the adoption pursuant to Arizona Rule of Procedure for the Juvenile Court 85(A) in light of the reversal of the termination of his parental rights in Roberto I. The court denied the motion, and Father appealed.
[¶4] Reasoning that Rule 103(F) divests the juvenile court of authority to enter an adoption order pending a biological parent's appeal of a termination-of-rights order, the court of appeals vacated the adoption order as void. Roberto F. v. Dep't of Child Safety (" Roberto II " ), 235 Ariz. 388, 398 ¶ 36, 332 P.3d 614, 624 (App. 2014). The specially concurring judge disagreed with the majority's interpretation of Rule 103(F) but concluded that the juvenile court erred by refusing to set aside the adoption order pursuant to Rule 85(A). Id. at 398 ¶ 37, 399 ¶ 41, 332 P.3d at 624-25 (Norris, J., specially concurring).
[¶5] In its petition for review, DCS does not challenge the court of appeals' decision to vacate the adoption order, but argues that the court erroneously reasoned that Rule 103(F) divested the juvenile court of authority to enter the adoption order pending the appeal in the termination case. Father and the adoptive parents agree that the court of appeals misinterpreted Rule 103(F). We granted review to clarify the juvenile court's authority in adoption cases when a biological parent's appeal of a termination-of-rights order is ...