In the Matter of the Welfare of the Child of: K. A. H. and D. M. W., Parents.
Houston County District Court File No. 28-JV-12-375
Ben Michael Smith, Winona, Minnesota (for appellant K.A.H.)
Kurt Jerome Knuesel, Pflughoeft Pederson Johnsrud & Knuesel LLP, Winona, Minnesota (for respondent D.M.W.)
Jamie Hammell, Houston County Attorney, Suzanne Mae Bublitz, Assistant County Attorney, Caledonia, Minnesota (for respondent Houston County Department of Human Services)
Margaret Hanson, Lanesboro, Minnesota (guardian ad litem)
Considered and decided by Chutich, Presiding Judge; Peterson, Judge; and Smith, Judge.
In this appeal from a termination of parental rights following the revocation of a stay of termination, mother argues that the termination is invalid because the record does not show a violation of the terms of the stay or that termination is in the child's best interests. We affirm.
On September 1, 2011, the four-year-old child of appellant-mother K.A.H. and respondent-father D.M.W. was removed from mother's home by law enforcement, and the child has been in out-of-home placement since then. Respondent Houston County Department of Human Services (the county) filed a petition alleging that the child was in need of protection or services (CHIPS). The district court adjudicated the child in need of protection or services, and, on November 2, 2011, adopted a case plan that required mother to abstain from alcohol and all mood-altering chemicals, complete chemical-dependency assessments and successfully complete all assessment recommendations, and submit to random urinalyses (UAs).
In March 2012, due to mother's failure to comply with the case plan, the district court relieved the county of its responsibility to make reasonable efforts to reunite mother with the child. The county filed a petition to terminate mother's parental rights (TPR), alleging substantial, continuous, or repeated refusal or neglect to comply with parental duties; palpable unfitness; and failure of reasonable efforts to correct the conditions leading to out-of-home placement.
On the second day of the TPR trial in July 2012, mother agreed to a voluntary termination of her parental rights, with the termination to be stayed for two years on specific conditions. Mother signed a consent in support of voluntary termination of her parental rights, a stipulation as to stayed termination, and a stipulation and consent for the transfer of legal and physical custody of the child to father and his wife. Mother admitted in the consent that she had not complied with the case plan. She stated that the child had been in continuous out-of-home placement since being removed from mother's home and that she understood Minnesota's child-protection law contains time restrictions that limit the amount of time a child can be placed out of the home. She also stated:
7. . . . I have had enough time to discuss with my attorney my rights in the termination matter, including my right to have a trial before a judge who would make the final decision. I understand that if my rights are involuntarily terminated, I cannot ...