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In re Faith T.

Supreme Court of New Hampshire

October 16, 2013

In re Faith T. & a

Argued September 19, 2013.

6th Circuit Court -- Franklin Family Division.

Barbara and George G., self-represented petitioners, by brief.

Goldman & LeBrun, P.A., of Concord ( John P. LeBrun on the memorandum of law and orally), for the respondent.

[165 N.H. 347] Joseph A. Foster, attorney general ( Suzanne M. Gorman, senior assistant attorney general, on the memorandum of law, and Stephen G. LaBonte, assistant attorney general, orally), for the State of New Hampshire, as amicus curiae.

DALIANIS, C.J. HICKS, CONBOY, LYNN and BASSETT, JJ., concurred.

OPINION

Dalianis, C.J.

The petitioners, Barbara and George G., appeal an order of the 6th Circuit Court -- Franklin Family Division ( Gordon, J.), denying their petitions to terminate the parental rights of the mother, Amelia T.,

Page 955

over her three children, Faith T., Arom T., and Jacoby T. They argue that the trial court erred in: (1) concluding that they failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the mother substantially and continuously neglected to pay for necessary subsistence, education, or other care; (2) failing to balance the best interest of the children and the totality of the circumstances; and (3) dismissing their petitions under RSA chapter 169-C (2002 & Supp. 2012). We affirm.

The record supports, or the trial court found, the following facts. Faith was born July 31, 2004, when Amelia was sixteen years old and still in high school. Faith has known the petitioners for most of her life and has lived with them continuously since November 2007. Arom and Jacoby, who are twins, were born January 28, 2008, and, except for a two-week period in May 2008, have lived with the petitioners since they were born.

In June 2008, when Amelia was facing the possibility of proceedings being initiated by the New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) regarding her care of the children, the petitioners, who are not related to Amelia, agreed to become temporary guardians of the three children. They were appointed permanent guardians on September 9, 2009. During the guardianship, the children have been well cared for and, in all respects, consider the petitioners as their parents.

Amelia is currently employed at a department store, where she works between thirty-two and forty hours per week. She pays child support according to the guidelines based upon her income; the child support amount is automatically deducted from her paycheck by wage assignment. See RSA 458-C:3 (2004 & Supp. 2012). She has supervised visits with the children at a visitation center, and she telephones Faith each week. Otherwise, she has little involvement with the children.

The petitioners filed petitions to terminate Amelia's parental rights over all three children, noting their intent to adopt them if the petitions were granted. The petitions alleged two statutory grounds for termination: (1) that Amelia had failed to support, educate, or care for the children as defined in RSA 170-C:5, II (2002); and (2) that she had failed to ...


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