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In re Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of L.T.W.B.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

February 20, 2014

IN RE THE MATTER OF THE TERMINATION OF THE PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP OF L.T.W.B., Minor Child, and S.A.B., Mother, and H.L.B., Father, H.L.B., Father, Appellant-Respondent,
v.
THE INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SERVICES, Appellee-Petitioner

Editorial Note:

These opinions are not precedents and cannot be cited or relied upon unless used when establishing res judicata or collateral estoppel or in actions between the same party. Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure 65(D).

APPEAL FROM THE TIPPECANOE SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable Faith A. Graham, Judge. The Honorable Crystal A. Sanders, Magistrate. Cause No. 79D03-1303-JT-24.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: TERI A. FLORY, Flory and Smith, Lafayette, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, Attorney General of Indiana, ROBERT J. HENKE, DAVID E. COREY, Deputies Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

MAY, Judge. KIRSCH, J., and BRADFORD, J., concur.

OPINION

MEMORANDUM DECISION - NOT FOR PUBLICATION

MAY, Judge

H.L.B. (Father) appeals the involuntary termination of his parental rights to L.T.W.B. (Child). He argues the trial court abused its discretion when it denied his motion to continue. We affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY[1]

Child was born on April 27, 2012, to S.A.B.[2] (Mother) and Father. The Department of Child Services (DCS) became involved with the family because Mother left the hospital without the Child after Child's birth and her whereabouts became unknown. Father visited Child in the hospital, and was advised DCS was investigating Mother's whereabouts. Father submitted to a drug test at that time, and it came back positive for THC, a chemical found in marijuana. On May 2, DCS filed a petition to declare Child a Child in Need of Services (CHINS) based on Mother's abandonment of Child, Father's positive drug screen, the presence of cocaine in Child's meconium at birth, Mother's lack of prenatal care, and Mother's use of drugs three days prior to Child's birth.

On June 15, the juvenile court adjudicated Child a CHINS and ordered Father to refrain from the use of illegal drugs and alcohol, attend all court hearings, obtain and maintain safe housing, obtain and maintain a legal and stable source of income, obey the law, participate in substance abuse assessments and follow all recommendations, participate in mental health assessments and follow all recommendations, participate in parenting assessments and follow all recommendations, submit to random drug screens, participate in visitation with Child, and participate in home-based therapy. Father completed the required assessments, but he did not complete any of the services recommended based on those assessments. He participated in visitation with Child during May 2012, but he did not see Child thereafter. Father was arrested once and convicted twice during the course of the proceedings, he tested positive for cocaine, admitted to using cocaine, and admitted to abusing alcohol.

On March 6, 2013, DCS filed a petition to involuntarily terminate Father's parental rights. The juvenile court held a hearing the same day and appointed counsel for Father. On May 6, Father filed a motion to continue the fact-finding hearing scheduled for May 28 based on a conflict on his counsel's calendar. In that same motion, Father acknowledged the court had discretion to appoint him different counsel in lieu of continuing the case. On May 8, the juvenile court denied Father's motion to continue and appointed him new counsel. Father did not request another continuance, ...


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