Summary of Decision December 21, 2012
Justice Burke delivered the opinion for the Court. Affirmed.
Case Name: IN THE MATTER OF THE TERMINATION OF THE PARENTAL RIGHTS TO: SMH, KDH, MJH, and APH, MINOR CHILDREN. HMH, a/k/a HM and HB v. STATE OF WYOMING, DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY SERVICES.
Docket Numbers: S-12-0094
Appeal from the District Court of Johnson County, Honorable John G. Fenn, Judge.
Representing Appellant: John C. Abraham, Liberty Law Offices, P.C., Gillette, Wyoming.
Representing Appellee: Gregory A. Phillips, Wyoming Attorney General; Robin Sessions Cooley, Deputy Attorney General; Jill E. Kucera, Senior Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Ms. Kucera.
Guardian Ad Litem: Stacey L. Obrecht and Dan S. Wilde, Wyoming Guardian Ad Litem Program, Cheyenne, Wyoming. Argument by Mr. Wilde.
Date of Decision: December 21, 2012
Facts: Appellant, HMH (Mother), appealed from the district court’s order terminating her parental rights pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 14-2-309(a)(iii) and (a)(v). She contended there was insufficient evidence to support the district court’s decision.
Issues: Mother presents the following issue for our consideration:
Was the district court’s finding that parental rights to the minor children should be terminated established by clear and convincing evidence?
The Department of Family Services (DFS) and the children’s guardian ad litem state the issue in a substantially similar manner.
Holdings: Examining the evidence in the light most favorable to DFS, the Court found clear and convincing evidence to establish that Mother is unfit to care for her children. The evidence showed that Mother could not possibly meet the mental and emotional needs of her children while refusing to acknowledge that they were afraid of EW and that they did not want to live with him. While the Court noted that Mother’s minimization of the children’s fears was harmful to the children regardless of whether their allegations of abuse were true, they found that the evidence strongly suggested that the children were, in fact, abused by EW, and that he therefore posed a direct threat to the safety and well-being of Mother’s children. Again, however, notwithstanding the veracity of the children’s allegations, Mother’s refusal to address her children’s concerns and her failure to recognize the damage caused by her continued association with EW shows that she is not fit to care for her children. Further, the evidence clearly indicated that Mother has not been able to maintain sobriety, despite multiple attempts by DFS to help her obtain treatment. Mother’s continued drug and alcohol abuse further demonstrated that she is not fit to care for her children. In light of this evidence, the Court found that termination of parental rights is justified under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 14-2-309(a)(v). As a result, the Court did not consider whether termination was also warranted under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 14-2-309(a)(iii). Affirmed.
Summaries are prepared by Law Librarians and are not official statements of the Wyoming Supreme Court
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Friday, December 21, 2012
Summary of Decision December 21, 2012