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In the Interest of T.H., A Child Heather Pautz, Barnes County v. T.H.

February 17, 2012

IN THE INTEREST OF T.H., A CHILD HEATHER PAUTZ, BARNES COUNTY DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL SERVICES,
PETITIONER AND APPELLEE
v.
T.H., A CHILD, A.S., MOTHER, K.H., FATHER, RESPONDENTS K.H., FATHER, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Juvenile Court of Barnes County, Southeast Judicial District, the Honorable John T. Paulson, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandstrom, Justice.

N.D. Supreme CourtInterest of T.H., 2012 ND 38

This opinion is subject to petition for rehearing. [Go to Documents]

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AFFIRMED. Opinion of the Court by Sandstrom, Justice.

No. 20110084

[¶1] K.H. appeals from juvenile court orders, including an order of disposition extending placement of his daughter, T.H., in the custody and control of Barnes County Social Services and an order denying his motion to dismiss. He argues the juvenile court lacked jurisdiction, the court applied the wrong standard of proof in finding the child was deprived in 2008, the court erred in allowing his plea to the allegations of deprivation, the duration of the deprivation proceedings was excessive, and the court erred in finding the child continues to be deprived. We affirm.

I

[¶2] On October 3, 2008, the juvenile court entered an order for shelter care, finding there was probable cause the child, T.H., was deprived and ordering the child temporarily be removed from her parents' custody and placed in the custody of Barnes County Social Services for placement in foster care. At the hearing held before the order was entered, the child's father, K.H., was present, and the child's mother, A.S., appeared via telephone. A guardian ad litem was appointed to represent the child's interests in the proceedings.

[¶3] On October 31, 2008, a petition was filed alleging the child was deprived. The petition alleged medical and psychological neglect of the child by the father and his wife. The petition also alleged Social Services received three abuse or neglect reports about bruising on the child's face. Documents attached to the petition alleged the child had many mental health problems and recommendations were made to address the child's mental health, the father and his wife did not consistently keep the child's counseling appointments, the child was taken off prescription medication without advice from her doctor, the father and his wife failed to follow recommendations from mental health professionals, the child had various physical injuries, and the child's and her step-mother's explanations for the injuries did not always match.

[¶4] On November 21, 2008, a hearing was held on the petition, and the father appeared with his attorney. The parties entered a stipulation agreeing that if the evidence was heard, it was likely the court could find there was clear and convincing evidence the alleged events had occurred. On November 24, 2008, the juvenile court entered an order finding the child was deprived and ordering the child be placed in Social Services' care, custody, and control. The order stated it would remain in effect for no more than twelve months.

[¶5] In September 2009, a permanency hearing was held, and the father and the mother both appeared at the hearing. The court ordered the child continue to be placed in Social Services' custody, the father and his wife to attend family counseling, and the father's wife to attend individual counseling. The order was effective until March 2010.

[¶6] In December 2009, a second permanency hearing was held, and both of the child's parents appeared. The court found it was contrary to the child's welfare to return her to her home until her father and his wife addressed other problems through counseling and ordered the child's placement continue. The order was effective until March 2010.

[¶7] In March 2010, a third permanency hearing was held, and both parents appeared at the hearing. The court found it was contrary to the child's welfare to return home and ordered the placement continue. The order remained in effect until September 2010.

[¶8] On August 19, 2010, the father filed an objection and requested the matter be dismissed, arguing the court failed to find the child was a deprived child as required by law in the November 2008 order and claiming the court cannot extend the child's placement in foster care after October 2010 because placement in foster care cannot exceed a total of twenty-four months under N.D.C.C. § 27-20-36. On September 1, 2010, the court overruled the father's objection. The court found "the parties stipulated at the initial deprivation hearing that there was clear and convincing evidence to find that [the child] was a deprived child and this Court had subject matter and personal jurisdiction to enter an order." The court also ruled the father's argument about a two-year limit on foster care was not supported by the law.

[ΒΆ9] On October 28, 2010, the court entered an order continuing the matter and extending Social Services' custody ...


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