T.H. v. State of Utah

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State of Utah, in the interest of L.H., a person under eighteen years of age, Case No. 981266-CA Filed May 13, 1999 IN THE UTAH COURT OF APPEALS


State of Utah, in the interest of L.H., a person under eighteen years of age.



State of Utah,

(Not For Official Publication)

Case No. 981266-CA


May 13, 1999 1999 UT App 158 -----

Second District Juvenile, Ogden Department
The Honorable L. Kent Bachman

David B. Thompson, Park City, for Appellant
Jan Graham and John Peterson, Salt Lake City, for Appellee
Martha Pierce, Salt Lake City, Guardian Ad Litem


Before Judges Greenwood, Billings, and Orme.


Appellant T.H. appeals the termination of her parental rights in L.H. We affirm.

The Utah Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) first took L.H. into protective custody in early 1995, when L.H. was approximately seven months old. Shortly thereafter, the child was placed in the custody of his biological father, J.C. DCFS filed a petition to terminate T.H.'s parental rights in September 1997, after T.H. failed to progress in her parenting skills and continued to exhibit erratic and violent behavior due to serious personality disorders.

The juvenile court entered an order terminating T.H.'s parental rights. The court concluded that T.H. was unfit to be a parent, based on its finding that T.H.'s mental illness and deficiencies "render[ed] her unable to care for the immediate and continuing physical or emotional needs of the child for any extended period of time." The court further concluded that it was not in L.H.'s best interests to have contact with T.H.

T.H. claims the court erred because it misconstrued the meaning of "failure of parental adjustment" in sections 78-3a-403(2) and 407(5), and therefore improperly terminated T.H.'s parental rights based on the failure to adjust. However, she does not challenge the court's finding that she was an unfit parent.

Under section 78-3a-407, a court "may terminate all parental rights with respect to one or both parents if it finds any one of the following [eight statutory grounds, including] . . . (3) that the parent or parents are unfit or incompetent. Utah Code Ann. § 78-3a-407 (1996). Plainly, finding that any single statutory ground exists is sufficient to terminate parental rights. See id.; see also, In Interest of J.N., 960 P.2d 403, 411 (Utah Ct. App. 1998) (stating "the State need only prove one ground for . . . parental rights to be terminated").

Since the court found that T.H. was unfit as a parent, the court properly terminated her parental rights under Utah Code Ann. §78-3a-407(3). This finding is unchallenged. The court also determined, and T.H. does not challenge, that it was not in the best interest of L.H. to have contact with T.H. These findings are sufficient to support the termination of T.H.'s parental rights, and we therefore affirm.

Judith M. Billings, Judge



Pamela T. Greenwood,
Associate Presiding Judge

Gregory K. Orme, Judge