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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:The parental rights of a mother and father were terminated. At trial, the evidence against the father indicated that he repeatedly left the couple’s two children in the care of his mother, who abused alcohol and who frequently drove the children while she was under the influence. She had wrecked before, while drinking and driving, too. The evidence also showed that the father left the children in the care of the mother, who also had alcohol-abuse problems, and who also drove with the children in the car. She once left the kids in a vehicle on a summer day with the windows rolled up. Mother and father were frequently verbally and emotionally abusive to each other. The father did not have a steady job, nor a steady apartment. He and the mother frequently separated, and at times he said that if the mother’s parental rights were terminated that he would leave. He completed parenting classes mandated by child protective services, but he still could not adequately explain how he was going to provide for the children’s’ financial needs. The children’s attorney ad litem did not meet with the children until three days after the trial began, and the children’s wishes were never ascertained. Though the children were then thriving in the care of a foster family, there was no evidence showing a commitment to place the children together in the future, or to maintain their relationship through other means of communication. On appeal, the mother challenges the ruling based on the children’s attorney’s performance, and the father appeals the ruling on the merits. HOLDING:Affirmed. With respect to the father, the evidence supports the finding that the termination was in the children’s best interest, that the he had knowingly placed or allowed the children to remain in conditions or surroundings that endangered the physical or emotional well-being of the children, and that he had knowingly engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the children with persons who engaged in conduct that endangered the physical or emotional well-being of the children. As for the mother’s contention, the court says that the mother is seeking to exploit the attorney ad litem’s deficiencies for her own use, and that she does not have standing on appeal (nor did she at trial) to complain about the attorney’s performance on her children’s or her husband’s behalf. The court adds that despite it’s ruling, it is “appalled that any attorney, much less one appointed to represent the interests of vulnerable children, could fail to meet with his clients, not to mention fail to ascertain his clients’ trial objectives, until such trial was well underway.” OPINION:Lee Dauphinot, J.; Dauphinot, Holman and Gardner, JJ.

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