In re Adoption of Autumn G.

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In re Adoption of Autumn G.

Case Number
A-18-0954
Court Number
Hall
Call Date
September 10, 2019
Case Time
9:30 AM
Case Summary

A-18-0954, In re Adoption of Autumn G.

Hall County Court Sitting as a Juvenile Court, Judge Arthur S. Wetzel

Attorney for Appellant: Vikki S. Stamm (Stamm Romero & Associates, PC, LLO)

Attorney for Appellee: Erin M. Urbom (Bradley Law Office, PC)

Civil: Termination; adoption

Facts:

Jordan Galvan (Appellee) is the father of Autumn. Joshua Clement (Appellant) is the child’s step-father. In January 2018, Appellant filed a petition for adoption, seeking to adopt Autumn. The petition alleged that Autumn had not seen Appellant for 1 ½ years, but he had not consented to the adoption. It further alleged that Appellee was married to Autumn’s mother and that the three of them had lived together since December 2016.

Trial was held on Appellant’s petition for adoption, the basis for adoption being Appellee’s abandonment of Autumn. The evidence showed that after Appellee and Autumn’s mother divorced in 2016, Appellee was convicted of violating the custody order by failing to return the child after visitation. He also eventually went into treatment for PTSD and substance abuse in Grand Island and then Hot Springs, SD. Appellee testified that he had not spoke with Autumn for 1 ½ years and had not seen her in person for three years. Appellee testified that he sent things to the child and tried to call her repeatedly, but was blocked by Autumn’s mother. He also argued that no one in the family was willing to supervise his visitation. Following trial, the court found that Appellant had failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that Appellee had abandoned his daughter and that Appellant could not adopt Autumn.

On appeal, Appellant argues that Appellee abandoned Autumn and that termination of his parental rights is in the best interests of the child. He contends Appellee only attempted sporadic instances of contact with the child and she does not recognize him as her father. He argues Appellee produced no evidence that he has addressed his drug abuse or mental health, and that the trial court should not have used his treatment as a justification for his abandonment of his daughter. He further argues the trial court indicated repeatedly that Appellee was an unstable man whose actions toward the child were “reprehensible at best,” but then contradicted itself by holding that termination was not in the child’s best interests.

Appellee argues he did not abandon his daughter. He argues that Appellant did not establish by clear and convincing any of the statutory grounds permitting termination of his parental rights and that termination was in the best interests of the child. He argues he has consistently attempted to contact the child through her mother, calling the schools, and sending gifts. He argues he was in treatment due to requirements placed on him and his need to address his PTSD.

Issues on Appeal:

Appellant alleges that the trial court erred in 1) finding that termination of Appellee’s parental rights was not in the best interests of the child, and 2) finding that just cause and excuse was shown for abandonment.

 

Case Location
Concordia University
Court Type
County Court
Schedule Code
A1
Panel Text
Moore, Chief Judge, Pirtle and Welch, Judges