from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. JD18130 The
Honorable Daniel G. Martin, Judge
Office of Anne M. Williams, P.C., Mesa By Anne M. Williams
Counsel for Appellant
Arizona Attorney General's Office, Mesa By Nicholas
Chapman-Hushek Counsel for Appellee Department of Child
Lawrence F. Winthrop delivered the opinion of the Court, in
which Presiding Judge Randall M. Howe and Judge Jon W.
Dominique M. ("Mother") appeals the juvenile
court's order severing her parental rights to J.M. and
A.M. (collectively "the Children"). Mother does not
contest the finding of statutory grounds for severance, but
contends the juvenile court erred in concluding severance was
in the Children's best interests. For the following
reasons, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
J.M. is a male child born in 2010, and A.M. is a female child
born in 2013. Both came into care of the Department of Child
Safety ("DCS") due to domestic violence, substance
abuse, Mother's mental illness, and the then-ongoing
severance proceedings of Mother's two other children. The
trial court found J.M. and A.M. dependent as to Mother in
August 2012 and September 2013, respectively.
DCS offered Mother an array of services and assistance
designed to promote reunification, e.g., substance
rehabilitation services, parental aide services, mental
health treatment and counseling, and transportation. Mother,
however, failed to fully comply and remained unable to
discharge her parental responsibilities. She was still
engaged in domestic violence. Mother also did not regularly
participate in drug testing and, when she participated, she
did not consistently test negative for illegal substances.
Mother refused to take medication prescribed for her
psychiatric and psychological conditions, instead relying on
Benadryl and marijuana, for which she did not hold a valid
medical marijuana card.
In September 2013, the Children's guardian ad
litem moved to sever the parental relationship between
Mother and the Children on the grounds of willful abuse,
mental illness, chronic abuse of dangerous drugs, prior
severance of parental rights for the same cause,
cumulative fifteen-month out-of-home placement, cumulative
six-month out-of-home placement (for A.M. only), and asserted
severance would serve the best interests of the Children.
See Ariz. Rev. Stat. ("A.R.S.") §
8-533(B)(2), (3), (8)(b)-(c), (10). After an adjudication, the
juvenile court found DCS had met its burden of proving the
various statutory grounds and that severing Mother's
parental rights was in the Children's best
Mother timely appealed. We have appellate jurisdiction
pursuant to the Arizona Constitution, Article 6, Section 9;
A.R.S. § 8-235(A); and Rule 103(A) of the Arizona Rules
of Procedure for the Juvenile Court.
Mother appeals only the juvenile court's finding that
severance of her parental rights was in the Children's
best interests. On appeal, we do not reweigh evidence and
will affirm the juvenile court's factual findings if
supported by reasonable evidence. Denise R. v. Ariz. Dep
't of Econ. Sec, 221 Ariz. 92, 93-94, ¶ 4, 210
P.3d 1263, 1264-65 (App. 2009); Jesus M. v. Ariz.
Dep't of Econ. Sec, 203 Ariz. 278, 282, ¶ 12,
53 P.3d 203, 207 (App. 2002).
Parental rights in the care, custody, and management of their
children are fundamental, but not absolute. Kent K. v.
Bobby M.,210 Ariz. 279, 284, ¶ 24, 110 P.3d 1013,
1018 (2005) (citing Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S.
745, 753 (1982); Michael J. v. Ariz. Dep't of Econ.
Sec,196 Ariz. 246, 248, ¶¶ 11-12, 995 P.2d
682, 684 (2000)). Although fundamental, parental rights are
not inviolate; a court may still sever those rights if it
finds clear and convincing evidence of one of the statutory
grounds for severance, and also finds by a preponderance of
the evidence that severance is in ...