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In the Interest of A.W., A Child State of North Dakota v. A.W.

July 26, 2012

IN THE INTEREST OF A.W., A CHILD STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA, PETITIONER AND APPELLEE
v.
A.W., A CHILD, B.W., MOTHER, J.A., FATHER, RESPONDENTS J.A., 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.

AFFIRMED.

Opinion of the Court by Sandstrom, Justice.

Interest of A.W.No. 20120245

[¶1] J.A. appeals from a juvenile court order terminating parental rights to his daughter, A.W. We conclude the court's findings that J.A. abandoned the child, that the child is deprived, and that the conditions and causes of the deprivation are likely to continue are supported by clear and convincing evidence and are not clearly erroneous. We affirm.

I

[¶2] A.W. was born in 2005 and is currently seven years old. J.A. is her father, and B.W. is her mother. J.A. and B.W. lived in Washington when the child was born, but B.W. and the child moved to North Dakota approximately four years ago. J.A. currently resides in Washington, but works out of state and is often away from home for extended periods of time.

[¶3] A.W. has been diagnosed with Sanfilippo Syndrome, type A, which is a metabolic disorder that causes severe neurologic symptoms, bi-lateral hearing loss, speech impairment, and global developmental delays. A.W. requires assistance with most basic daily activities, including eating, grooming, and social interaction. A.W.'s condition will deteriorate as she gets older. Sanfilippo Syndrome is a fatal disease, and children with the disease have a life expectancy of fourteen to seventeen years.

[¶4] On December 17, 2010, Barnes County Social Services removed A.W. from her mother's care. On December 21, 2010, the juvenile court found A.W. was a deprived child on the basis of its findings that B.W. locked the child in her room, that B.W. neglected the child's daily needs, and that B.W. failed to meet the child's nutritional and educational requirements. Barnes County Social Services initially placed A.W. in foster homes, but eventually determined a group home would be more appropriate for the level of care she requires. A.W. is currently placed in a group home in Grand Forks.

[¶5] On December 20, 2011, Barnes County Social Services filed a petition to terminate B.W. and J.A.'s parental rights, alleging A.W.'s mental health and medical needs cannot be met in a home setting, B.W. does not have a stable home with services to meet the child's needs, B.W. has not followed through with court-ordered services, B.W.'s involvement with the child has decreased since May 2011, J.A. has not been a part of the child's life for four years, and J.A. has stated he would not be able to care for the child.

[¶6] A hearing on the petition was held on May 3, 2012. B.W. was given notice of the hearing but did not appear and was not represented by an attorney. J.A. was represented by an attorney, and he appeared by telephone for part of the hearing. On May 7, 2012, the juvenile court entered an order terminating B.W. and J.A.'s parental rights, finding J.A. abandoned the child, the child is deprived, the deprivation is likely to continue, the criteria for termination has been met for both parents, and there were no compelling reasons presented that would prevent the court from terminating the parents' rights.

[¶7] The juvenile court had jurisdiction under N.D. Const. art. VI, § 8, and N.D.C.C. § 27-20-03(1)(b). J.A.'s appeal was timely under N.D.C.C. § 27-20-56(1) and N.D.R.App.P. 2.2(a). This Court has jurisdiction under N.D. Const. art. VI, §§ 2 and 6, and N.D.C.C. § 27-20-56(1).

II

[ΒΆ8] J.A. argues the juvenile court erred in terminating his parental rights. He contends the court's findings that he abandoned A.W., that A.W. is deprived, and that the conditions and causes of the ...


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