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In re Welfare of Children of A.M.

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

December 16, 2013

In the Matter of the Welfare of the Children of: A.M. and R.C., Parents.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Rice County District Court File No. 66JV123275

Matthew D. Rich, Grundhoefer & Ludescher, P.A., Northfield, Minnesota (for appellant A.M.)

G. Paul Beaumaster, Rice County Attorney, Jennifer Nelson, Assistant County Attorney, Faribault, Minnesota (for respondent Rice County)

Heather Feikema, Hastings, Minnesota (guardian ad litem)

James R. Martin, Martin Law Office, Faribault, Minnesota (for father, R.C.)

Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Stoneburner, Judge; and Hooten, Judge.

STONEBURNER, Judge

Appellant mother challenges termination of parental rights to three children, arguing that the district court abused its discretion by determining that (1) respondent county proved a statutory ground for termination of parental rights by clear and convincing evidence and (2) that termination of parental rights is in the best interests of the children. Because the record supports the district court's conclusion that the county proved by clear and convincing evidence that (1) reasonable efforts have failed to correct the conditions leading to the children's placement; (2) mother will not, in the reasonably foreseeable future, be able to meet the children's needs; and (3) it is in the children's best interests to be in a stable home that can meet their needs, we affirm.

DECISION

Appellant A.M. (mother) has six biological children. This termination of parental rights (TPR) action involves her three youngest children, T.C., born on November 23, 2008, A.C., born on November 19, 2010, and J.C., born on April 21, 2012. T.C.'s out-of-home placement began in April 2010. As of February 11, 2013, the first day of the four-day TPR trial, T.C. had been in foster care for 569 days; A.C. had been in foster care for 300 days; and J.C. had been in foster care for 296 days. None of the children has special needs.

We review a TPR order to determine whether the district court's findings are supported by sufficient evidence and are not clearly erroneous, and we affirm the termination "when at least one statutory ground for termination is supported by clear and convincing evidence and termination is in the best interests of the child." In re Welfare of Children of S.E.P., 744 N.W.2d 381, 385 (Minn. 2008). A district court's determination that termination is in the child's best interest is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. In re Welfare of Children of J.R.B., 805 N.W.2d 895, 905 (Minn.App. 2011), review denied (Minn. Jan. 6, 2012).

I. Statutory basis for TPR

The TPR order contains 126 findings of fact based on evidence presented at the TPR trial. Mother does not challenge any of these findings as clearly erroneous, but she argues that the district court erred by concluding that these facts constitute clear and convincing evidence to prove that (1) mother is palpably unfit to be a party to the parent-child relationship under Minn. Stat. § 260C.301, subd. 1(b)(4) (2012); (2) reasonable efforts have failed to correct the conditions leading to the children's placement under Minn. Stat. § 260C.301, subd. 1(b)(5) (2012); or (3) the children are neglected and in foster care under Minn. Stat. §260C.301, subd.1(b)(8) (2012). We conclude that the record supports the district court's findings, and the findings support the conclusion that reasonable efforts failed to correct the conditions leading to placement. Because only one statutory basis is required to support TPR, we decline to address the other challenged statutory bases for TPR. See In re ...


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