Dept. of Human Services v. N. P.
Date Filed: 02-06-2013
Schuman, P.J. for the Court; Wollheim, J.; and Hadlock, J.
Juvenile Law: A juvenile court may not continue a wardship if the jurisdictional facts on which it is based have ceased to exist.
Father appealed a juvenile court judgment that continued jurisdiction over T, (“father”) son. At an August 2011 hearing, due to an incident with T’s mother while Father was under the influence of methamphetamine, the Department of Human Services removed custody of T from Father and placed T with Father’s mother. At this hearing, Father conceded a substance abuse problem and agreed to obtain treatment. By December 2011, he had successfully completed drug and alcohol counseling, as well as parenting classes. Following an April 18, 2012 petition hearing, the court determined that Father’s severe anger and frustration, in combination with his history of substance abuse, impaired his ability to parent T. On appeal, Father argued that, even if the court could have based its judgment on the evidence of his anger and frustration, that is not what it did. He argued, rather, that the court erred when it found him a threat to T “in light of the risk that [was] represented by his use of controlled substances,” despite there no longer being evidence of such risk. The Court of Appeals determined that this argument had merit, stating that “it is axiomatic that a juvenile court may not continue a wardship if the jurisdictional facts on which it [was] based [had] ceased to exist.” Reversed and remanded.