from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. JD530156 The
Honorable Timothy J. Ryan, Judge
Maricopa County Public Advocate, Mesa By David C. Lieb
Counsel for Appellant
Arizona Attorney General's Office, Tucson By Laura J.
Huff Counsel for Appellee, Department of Child Safety
Jennifer B. Campbell delivered the opinion of the Court, in
which Judge Patricia A. Orozco joined.  Presiding Judge
Michael J. Brown dissented.
Logan B. ("Father") challenges the juvenile
court's failure to make written findings in its order
terminating his parental rights to his children J.B. and I.B.
We hold that even if the court makes oral findings of fact on
the record, a written termination order that recites only
conclusions of law regarding the statutory grounds for
termination and best interests is insufficient as a matter of
law. Such an order fails to comply with the requirement in
both Arizona Revised Statutes ("A.R.S.") section
8-538(A) and Arizona Rule of Procedure for the Juvenile Court
66(F)(2)(A) that a termination order must contain written
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
In July 2016 the Department of Child Safety ("DCS")
filed a dependency petition alleging J.B. and I.B.
(collectively, the "children") were dependent. DCS
alleged substance abuse based on Father's use of heroin,
marijuana, and morphine. DCS also alleged neglect because of
Father's inability to provide the necessities of life for
the children and because he cared for them while under the
influence of drugs. The court later adjudicated the children
In April 2017, DCS moved to terminate Father's parental
rights on the statutory grounds of abandonment, A.R.S. §
8-533(B)(1), substance abuse, A.R.S. § 8-533(B)(3), and
six months in an out-of-home placement, A.R.S. §
8-533(B)(8)(b). DCS also alleged termination was in the
children's best interests.
Father later failed to appear for a pretrial conference. The
juvenile court found Father's failure to appear was
without good cause and granted DCS's motion to proceed
with the termination hearing in absentia.
After receiving exhibits and hearing testimony presented by a
DCS case manager, the juvenile court made findings of facts
and conclusions of law by oral pronouncement on the record at
the conclusion of the hearing. The juvenile court found DCS
failed to prove abandonment but did prove the grounds of
chronic substance abuse and out-of-home placement by clear
and convincing evidence, and stated relevant factual
findings. The court also found by a preponderance of evidence
that termination of Father's parental rights was in the
children's best interests, again providing its factual
The juvenile court later entered a final written order
terminating Father's parental rights to the children. The
final order read as follows:
THE COURT FINDS by clear and convincing evidence that the
State has proven the allegation of a history of chronic abuse
of dangerous drugs and controlled substances with respect to
THE COURT FINDS beyond a preponderance of the evidence that
it would be in the children's best interest[s] to sever
the father's parental rights.
final order was devoid of any factual findings to support the
legal conclusions about the statutory ground for termination
or factual findings to justify that termination was in the
children's best interests.
Father timely appealed. We have jurisdiction pursuant to
A.R.S. § 8-235(A) and Arizona Rule of ...