Friday, December 30, 2005
In a case of first impression, the Arizona Court of Appeals holds that in a proceeding for termination of parental rights, the statutory scheme does not prohibit more than one permanency hearing. The children in this case were removed from the home and placed in foster care. The court held a permanency hearing within 12 months of their entry into foster care, as required by statute, at which time the court approved a reunification plan. Three months later, at a review hearing, the court found that the case plan should be changed to severance and adoption. The state filed a motion for termination of parental rights. Six months after the initial permanency hearing, the court held a pre-trial conference. Since Arizona Juvenile Court rules of procedure require termination trials to take place within 90 days of the permanency hearing, Mother requested that the motion for termination be dismissed. The court did so, but also designated the pretrial conference as a permanency hearing. The state re-filed the petition for termination and a trial was held two months later. Thus the trial was timely if the second permanency hearing was proper but out of time if not. The court held that nothing in the statutory scheme prohibited more than one permanency hearing and affirmed the juvenile court's order terminating Mother's parental rights.
Veronica T. v. Arizona Department of Economic Security, 2005 Ariz. App. LEXIS 170 (December 27, 2005) Opinion on the web at http://www.cofad1.state.az.us/opinionfiles/JV/JV050038.pdf (last visited December 29, 2005 bgf)