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[U] In re J.L.R.

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 12, 2014

IN THE INTEREST OF: J.L.R. AND K.M.G.
v.
APPEAL OF: A. V., MOTHER

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Decree July 3, 2013 in the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County Orphans' Court at Nos.: 36-2012-2369; 36-2012-2371

BEFORE: PANELLA, J., MUNDY, J., and PLATT, J. [*]

MEMORANDUM

PLATT, J.

Appellant, A.V. (Mother), appeals the decree of the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County that terminated her rights to her daughters K.M.G., born in March of 2007, and J.L.R., born in May of 2005 (Children).[1]We affirm.

Mother and K.M.G moved in with the mother of N.L.G. (K.M.G.'s Father) (Paternal Grandmother) shortly before J.L.R.'s birth in May of 2005. Maternal Uncle was present for the birth, but Father of J.L.R. was not. N.L.G., Father of K.M.G., was incarcerated in April of 2007. Mother, J.L.R., K.M.G., and Mother's oldest daughter, who now lives in Hawaii with her father, continued to live with Paternal Grandmother.

Mother was incarcerated in August of 2007 on charges of felony criminal trespass, conspiracy to engage in criminal trespass, simple assault, criminal mischief, and corruption of minors. Mother spent twenty-three days in jail. On her release, Mother went to live with her mother rather than return to Paternal Grandmother's house where her three daughters were still living. Mother apparently believed that her work schedule and the possibility of future incarceration justified leaving the Children with Paternal Grandmother. Mother gave birth to a fourth child, a son, during this period.[2]

In September of 2009, Mother pleaded guilty to charges of felony criminal trespass, simple assault, and criminal mischief. She was sentenced to time served and probation, which she completed successfully, but she still owes fines, costs, and restitution in that case.

In September of 2009, when Paternal Grandmother refused to turn the Children over to her, Mother contacted Maternal Uncle and asked him to assist her. The Children began living with Maternal Uncle and his partner after Mother granted Maternal Uncle temporary guardianship of the Children.

Mother had no contact with the Children from the time they began living with Maternal Uncle and his partner until December 24, 2009, when she asked to have them spend Christmas with her. Maternal Uncle and his partner took the Children to Mother's house on December 24, 2009, but picked them up later the same day, at Mother's request.

Paternal Grandmother filed a complaint for custody of the Children in the trial court on December 30, 2009. The trial court granted shared legal custody to Maternal Uncle and Paternal Grandmother, primary physical custody to Maternal Uncle, and partial physical custody to Paternal Grandmother.[3]

Maternal Uncle permitted Mother to have weekend custodial visits with the Children during the spring and summer of 2010. One weekend during the summer of 2010, when Maternal Uncle met Mother to exchange custody of the Children, she appeared to be intoxicated. When Maternal Uncle told Mother she could not take the Children, she pulled them from his car, placed them in her car, and drove away. Maternal Uncle called the Pennsylvania State Police, who looked for Mother's vehicle, but were unable to find it. Maternal Uncle retrieved the Children the next day. This was the final time Mother saw or spoke to the Children. Aside from a few phone calls, Mother had no contact with Maternal Uncle or the Children between the summer of 2010 and January of 2012. Mother never asked to speak to the Children nor did she inquire as to their well-being.

In her final contact with Maternal Uncle, Mother sent him a text message on January 25, 2012, asking him to take custody of her son so she could move to Philadelphia. Since July of 2010, Mother made no attempt to stay in touch with the Children or to provide support for them in any form. She sent no cards or text messages, and made no phone calls for their birthdays or any holidays, in spite of the fact that Mother knew Maternal Uncle's phone number and address.

Mother returned to prison in October of 2012, after being charged with three felony counts of manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance, and criminal use of a communication facility. Mother remains in prison, where she has failed to communicate with Maternal Uncle or the Children.

Maternal Uncle and his partner filed a petition for the involuntary termination of the parental rights of Mother, N.L.G. (Father of K.M.G.), and J.R. (Father of J.L.R.), and for the adoption of K.M.G. and J.L.R., on November 9, 2012.[4]

Mother filed a Petition for Special Relief on April 8, 2013, in which she requested the removal of counsel for Maternal Uncle and his partner. She claimed a conflict of interest on the basis that their counsel had also represented her interests, while Mother was supporting the claims of Maternal Uncle, (her brother), and his partner against the claims of K.M.G.'s parental grandmother. Maternal Uncle and his partner filed an answer on April 10, 2013, which denied Mother's claim. The trial court denied Mother's petition on April 19, 2013. Mother filed a motion for reconsideration, which the trial court denied on May 1, 2013. (See Opinion Sur Appeal, 8/14/13, at 2).

After a hearing, the trial court entered a decree terminating the parental rights of N.L.G. (Father of K.M.G.) and Mother, on July 3, 2013.[5]Mother filed notice of appeal and a statement of errors on July 25, 2013.[6]

Mother raises the following questions on appeal:
A. Whether the [c]ourt erred when it denied Mother's request for special relief ...

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