This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. ß 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Child
of G.S., Parent.
Filed June 4, 2002
Hennepin County District Court
File No. J40150583
Leonardo Castro, Hennepin County Chief Public Defender, David P. Murrin, Renee Bergeron, Assistant Public Defenders, 317 Second Avenue South, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN† 55401 (for appellant P.H.)
Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Mary M. Lynch, Assistant County Attorney, 525 Portland Avenue, Suite 1200, Minneapolis, MN† 55415 (for respondent Hennepin County Children, Family and Adult Services Department)
Eric Rehm, 301 W. Burnsville Parkway, Burnsville, MN† 55337 (for guardian ad litem)
††††††††††† Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge, Willis, Judge, and Foley, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D†† O P I N I O N
††††††††††† Appellant father challenges a permanent-placement order that transferred custody of his child to her maternal grandmother, arguing that there was insufficient evidence that the transfer was in the childís best interests.† Because the juvenile courtís best-interests determination was supported by sufficient evidence and was not an abuse of discretion, we affirm.
††††††††††† Appellant P.H. and G.S. are the parents of S.C.H., age two.† In January 2001, the Hennepin County Children, Family, and Adult Services Department (the county) petitioned the juvenile court to terminate P.H.ís and G.S.ís parental rights or to transfer permanent custody of S.C.H. to a relative.
The petition was filed after G.S., who had sole legal and physical custody of S.C.H., left the child at the home of her maternal grandmother, F.S., in November 2000.† G.S. told F.S. that she would return in four days but did not tell her where she was going or leave any contact information.† Three weeks later, G.S. contacted F.S. and arranged for her to care for S.C.H. for one more week.† On December 21, 2000, after the week had passed, F.S. told a child-protection worker that G.S. had not retrieved S.C.H. or arranged for her further care.† The next month, the juvenile court issued a temporary order for protective care and out-of-home placement under the interim control of the county.
††††††††††† After a trial in June 2001, the juvenile court transferred legal and physical custody of S.C.H. to F.S., determining that (1) G.S. had demonstrated an inability to provide for the health and safety of her child and there was not a substantial probability that S.C.H. could be returned to her care; (2) appellant was not a suitable provider for S.C.H. and was not a viable option for placement or permanency; and (3) it was in S.C.H.ís best interests that she remain in the permanent care and custody of F.S.† This appeal follows.
D E C I S I O N
††††††††††† A countyís social-services agency may petition the juvenile court to establish a basis for the court to order permanent placement of a child.† Minn. Stat. ß 260C.201, subd. 11(b) (Supp. 2001).† The county must prove the allegations in the petition by clear and convincing evidence.† In re Welfare of A.R.G.-B., 551 N.W.2d 256, 261 (Minn. App. 1996).† If the juvenile court does not return the child to the home, it may permanently place the child in the legal and physical custody of a relative if the placement is in the best interests of the child.† Minn. Stat. ß 260C.201, subd. 11(d)(1) (Supp. 2001).
††††††††††† When reviewing a permanent-placement order, this court determines whether the juvenile courtís findings address the statutory criteria and are supported by substantial evidence.† A.R.G.-B., 551 N.W.2d at 261.† We view the evidence and its reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the prevailing party and will not reverse the juvenile courtís findings unless they are clearly erroneous.† Id. at 261-62.† The juvenile courtís ultimate determination of the best interests of the child, however, is reviewed under an abuse-of-discretion standard.† Vangsness v. Vangsness, 607 N.W.2d 468, 475 (Minn. App. 2000).
††††††††††† Appellant challenges only the sufficiency of the evidence underlying the juvenile courtís best-interests determination, asserting two claims.† First, he argues that F.S. did not want custody of S.C.H. ďuntil she had a change of heart approximately two weeksĒ before the trial.† Although appellant does not explain how this affects S.C.H.ís interests, he apparently is claiming that it is not in her best interests to be placed with a reluctant relative.† F.S. did not initially seek custody of S.C.H.† But F.S. testified at trial that she did not step forward as a placement option when the petition was filed because she had hoped that by saying that she would not take S.C.H., G.S. would follow through with treatment and ďget her life in order.Ē† Her decision to wait appears to have been based not on a reluctance to care for S.C.H. but rather on her concern for her daughter.† When she saw that G.S. was not receiving treatment, F.S. sought custody.
††††††††††† Second, appellant contends that the juvenile courtís best-interests determination was an assumption derived from assumptions of the child-protection worker and the guardian ad litem that it was in the best interests of S.C.H. to be placed with F.S. because she had custody of other children of G.S.† But we find no indication that the juvenile courtís determination was an assumption rather than a considered decision based on all the evidence before it.† The child-protection worker testified that S.C.H. seemed well cared for when she was with F.S. and that it would be in S.C.H.ís best interests to be placed with her siblings.† The guardian ad litem testified that she had no reason to think that F.S. would not be capable of caring for S.C.H. and that a transfer of custody, instead of† terminations of parental rights, would be in S.C.H.ís best interests because it would allow her to have an ongoing relationship with her parents.† F.S. testified that she would be able to monitor parental visitation and would provide S.C.H. with a home and with the love, care, and nurturing that she will need.† Further, appellant does not challenge the juvenile courtís determination that he was not a suitable provider for S.C.H. or a viable option for placement.† We conclude that the juvenile courtís best-interests determination was supported by sufficient evidence and was not an abuse of discretion.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, ß 10.