State of Utah, in the interest of J.M.

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P.W. v. State of Utah, Case No. 20000998-CA, Filed May 10, 2001 IN THE UTAH COURT OF APPEALS


State of Utah, in the interest of J.M.,
a person under eighteen years of age.



State of Utah,

(Not For Official Publication)

Case No. 20000998-CA

May 10, 2001 2001 UT App 153  -----

Fifth District Juvenile, St. George Department
The Honorable Hans Q. Chamberlain

Alan D. Boyack, St. George, for Appellant
Mark L. Shurtleff and Carol L. Verdoia, Salt Lake City, for Appellee
Martha Pierce, Salt Lake City, Guardian Ad Litem -----

Before Judges Greenwood, Billings, and Orme.


P.W. appeals the termination of her parental rights.

Under the plain language of Utah Code Ann. § 78-3a-407 (1996), a juvenile court may terminate a parent's rights if it finds any one of the grounds enumerated therein. See In re M.E.C., 942 P.2d 955, 959 (Utah Ct. App. 1997). P.W.'s parental rights were terminated for several of the enumerated grounds, not just one: 1) neglect; 2) unfitness or incompetence; 3) failure of parental adjustment; 4) inadequate efforts to prevent abuse or neglect or to avoid being an unfit parent; and 5) abandonment. See Utah Code Ann. § 78-3a-407(1) to -(6).

The evidence supports the trial court's termination of P.W.'s parental rights. When she was two years old, J.M. was removed from her parents' care after they were arrested for shoplifting. J.M. was found in a filthy home with no food or furniture and was wearing only a soiled diaper. There was also evidence of illegal drug use in the home. P.W. was given a six month service plan and warned that her failure to comply may result in her losing J.M. P.W. visited J.M. a couple of times, but then went to Las Vegas for approximately four months, during which time she had no contact with J.M. P.W. was arrested in Las Vegas for car theft, extradited to Utah, and placed in jail. As a result, P.W. had no more contact with J.M. Moreover, P.W. has a history of unemployment, illegal drug use, and other criminal activity. She has not been able to maintain steady housing and has been unwilling or unable to make changes that would enable her to provide a safe environment for J.M.

As this court noted in In re C.Y., 765 P.2d 251 (Utah Ct. App. 1988), "[i]f after a reasonable period of time, no positive change in parenting skills occur[s], a termination of parental rights is appropriate. Children cannot remain in limbo indefinitely where there is no reasonable likelihood of their parents gaining necessary parenting abilities." Id. at 255-56.

The trial court's decision to terminate P.W.'s parental rights is supported by clear and convincing evidence. See Utah Code Ann. § 78-3a-406(3) (1996). Accordingly, the order of termination is affirmed.

Pamela T. Greenwood,
Presiding Judge

Judith M. Billings, Judge

Gregory K. Orme, Judge