Interest of C.A.R.Annotate this Case
M.L.B. appealed a district court order denying her petition to terminate T.D.R.’s parental rights. M.L.B. and T.D.R. had one child together, C.A.R., born in 2015. In May 2018, M.L.B. petitioned for termination of T.D.R.’s parental rights, claiming T.D.R. had not seen C.A.R. since February 2017 and T.D.R. failed to pay child support except for one payment in January 2018. In a separate action, M.L.B.’s husband, A.G., petitioned to adopt C.A.R. After a September 2019 hearing, the district court found T.D.R. had not abandoned C.A.R. The court found T.D.R.’s lack of contact with C.A.R. was justified because T.D.R. relied on his counsel’s advice during the pendency of his criminal case. The court also found T.D.R.’s failure to financially support C.A.R. before a child support order was in place did not support an intent to abandon C.A.R. The court found a child support order was not in place until August 2017, after its entry T.D.R. maintained substantial compliance, and T.D.R. was current on his support payments at the time of the hearing. The court thus denied M.L.B.’s petition to terminate T.D.R.’s parental rights. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying M.L.B.’s petition to terminate T.D.R.’s parental rights. The court’s findings had support in the record, and it did not act in an arbitrary, unconscionable, or unreasonable manner in making its decision.