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Crystal E. v. Department of Child Safety

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

March 7, 2017

CRYSTAL E., Appellant,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SAFETY, M.E., Appellees.

         Appeal from the Superior Court in Navajo County No. S0900JD201400042 The Honorable Michala M. Ruechel, Judge

         AFFIRMED

         COUNSEL

          Moore Law Firm, P.L.L.C., Show Low By David G. Moore Counsel for Appellant

          Coronado Law Firm, PLLC, Lakeside By Eduardo H. Coronado, Kai M. Henderson Counsel for Appellee M.E.

          Arizona Attorney General's Office, Mesa By Amanda Adams Counsel for Appellee Department of Child Safety

          Chief Judge Michael J. Brown delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Judge Patricia A. Orozco [1] joined and Presiding Judge Samuel A. Thumma specially concurred.

          OPINION

          BROWN, Chief Judge

         ¶1 Crystal E. (Mother) appeals the superior court's order terminating her parental rights to her son, M.E. (born in 2013), based on grounds of chronic substance abuse and fifteen months' time-in-care. Because Mother challenges only the substance abuse ground on appeal, she has abandoned and waived any challenge to the court's finding of the statutory time-in-care ground. We therefore affirm on that basis, and we affirm the court's finding that severance would be in M.E.'s best interests.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 The Department of Child Safety (DCS) filed a dependency petition alleging neglect by Mother, based primarily on her substance abuse and mental illness. The superior court granted the petition, finding M.E. dependent as to Mother and ordering a case plan of family reunification. DCS provided Mother with various reunification services but her participation in the services was sporadic. She initially refused services, but later decided to participate in counseling and substance abuse treatment. Mother missed more than eight months of drug testing and tested positive for methamphetamine in December 2015, January 2016, and February 2016.

         ¶3 DCS filed a motion for termination of Mother's parental rights based on chronic substance abuse and fifteen months' time-in-care. See Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) sections 8-533(B)(3) and (B)(8)(c). Following the adjudication hearing, the court granted the motion, finding DCS proved by clear and convincing evidence both statutory grounds and established by a preponderance of the evidence that severance was in M.E.'s best interests. This timely appeal followed.

         DISCUSSION

         ¶4 To support an order terminating parental rights, the superior court must find at least one statutory ground by clear and convincing evidence. Linda V. v. Ariz. Dep't of Econ. Sec,211 Ariz. 76, 78, ¶ 6 (App. 2005). Additionally, the court must find by a preponderance of the evidence that the termination is in the best interests of the child. Mario G. v. Ariz. Dep't of Econ. Sec, 227 Ariz. 282, 285, ΒΆ 11 (App. 2011). "[W]e will affirm ...


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