IN THE INTEREST OF: H.K., A MINOR APPEAL OF: R.L., FATHER IN THE INTEREST OF: H.K., A MINOR APPEAL OF: R.L., FATHER
from the Order Entered July 11, 2016 In the Court of Common
Pleas of Allegheny County Orphans' Court at No(s):
from the Order Entered August 24, 2016 In the Court of Common
Pleas of Allegheny County Family Court at No(s):
BEFORE: BENDER, P.J.E., SHOGAN, J., and MOULTON, J.
R.L. ("Father") appeals from the July 11, 2016
permanency review order and from the August 24, 2016 order
terminating his parental rights to his child, H.K., born in
July 2014 ("Child"), under 23 Pa.C.S. §
2511(a)(1), (2), and (b). We conclude that Father lacks
standing to challenge the July 11, 2016 permanency review
order and, therefore, dismiss his appeal from that order,
docketed at 1201 WDA 2016. We affirm the August 21, 2016
order terminating Father's parental rights, docketed at
1416 WDA 2016.
The trial court set forth the following factual background:
[Child] is a two year old child, who has only lived in the
home of her foster parents, having been placed with them upon
her discharge from the hospital when she was two weeks old.
She had spent the first thirteen days of her young life
detoxing: Mother had tested positive for Subutex. She does
not know or have a relationship with her [paternal]
grandparents. Mother named R.L. as the alleged Father shortly
before the child was adjudicated dependent on August 25,
2014. Father R.L. is currently incarcerated. He did not sign
an acknowledgement of paternity, nor was his name on the
birth certificate. Father took a genetic test in November
2014; he was determined to be the child's biological
Father on December 11, 2014. From January 2015 to April 2016,
Father did not have any contact with [the Office of Children
Youth and Families ("CYF")] or the Court despite
receiving notice at his place of incarceration. He did not
hire an attorney, nor ask for visitation, nor participate in
court hearings. Mother signed to voluntarily terminate her
parental rights on April 15, 2016.
Only after the [termination of parental rights] petition was
filed, did Father seek counsel; counsel entered her
appearance on April 4, 2016. Counsel's first appearance
on behalf of Father was at the July 11, 2016 permanency
review hearing. Paternal Grandparents filed a
"Grandparent Complaint for Custody" in April; their
request for visitation and issues related to custody were
ultimately deferred to the July 11, 2016 permanency review
hearing. See Order of Court, dated June 16, 2016.
Opinion, 9/26/2016, at 1-2 ("PRO 1925(a) Op."). On
July 11, 2016, the trial court held a permanency review
hearing and a hearing addressing Grandparent's request
this hearing, the trial court found Child "shall remain
with" her foster parents. Perm. Rev. Order at 4. The
Court further found that CYF shall "Offer Family Team
Conferencing and Act 101 Mediation to foster parents[.] NO
visitation shall be scheduled with paternal grandparents . .
. without approaching the court." Id. On August
11, 2016, Father filed a notice of appeal from the permanency
review order, which was docketed at 1201 WDA 2016.
March 29, 2016, CYF filed a petition to terminate
Father's parental rights. On August 24, 2016, the trial
court conducted a hearing on this petition and terminated
Father's parental rights pursuant to section 2511(a)(1)
and (2) and (b). On September 23, 2016, Father filed a
notice of appeal, which was docketed at 1416 WDA 2016. On
October 11, 2016, this Court consolidated the appeals sua
raises the following issues on appeal:
I. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR AND/OR
ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN FINDING THAT AFTER PATERNITY WAS
ESTABLISHED IN DECEMBER 2014, "CYF DID ONGOING
FF["] (FAMILY FINDING) ["]WORKING WITH THE
II. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR AND/OR
ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN FINDING "APRIL 2016 [PATERNAL
GRANDPARENTS] FIRST CONTACTED CYF AND THAT IS THE FIRST TIME
CYF WAS AWARE THEY EXISTED"?
III.WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR AND/OR
ABUSED ITS DISCRETION . . . IN NOT ALLOWING VISITATION WITH
THE PATERNAL GRANDPARENTS OF [CHILD] OUTSIDE THE SCOPE OF ACT
IV.WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR AND/OR
ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN RULING "IT WOULD BE TRAUMATIC
TO [CHILD] BOTH TO BE REUNI[TED] WITH OR INTRODUCED TO PEOPLE
SHE DOES NOT KNOW, GIVEN HER CURRENT AGE AND HER CURRENT
LEVEL OF [ST]ABILITY WITH HER CURRENT FOSTER PARENTS["]?
V. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR AND/OR
ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN FINDING IN RULING THAT THE COURT IS
NOT REQUIRED TO CONSIDER REASONABLE EFFORTS IN A HEARING TO
INVOLUNTARILY TERMINATE PARENTAL RIGHTS OF FATHER, R. L.?
VI.WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR AND/OR
ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN FINDING CHILDREN, YOUTH AND FAMILIES
PROVED BY CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE THAT TERMINATING THE
PARENTAL RIGHTS OF R. L. BEST MEETS THE NEEDS AND WELFARE OF
[CHILD], THE MINOR CHILD IN THIS MATTER?
Father's Br. at 1-2.
Appeal of the July 11, 2016 Permanency Review Order (1201 WDA
first four issues attempt to challenge findings the trial
court made in the July 11, 2016 permanency review order. We
conclude that Father lacks standing to contest these
findings, which address whether Grandparents had a right to
custody of, or visitation with, Child.
challenges the trial court's findings that: CYF did
family finding; CYF first learned of Grandparents when they
contacted the agency in April 2016; and it would be traumatic
for Child to be reunited with or introduced to Grandparents.
He also challenges whether the court erred in not allowing
visitation with Grandparents outside of Act 101
Rule of Appellate Procedure 501 states: "Except where
the right of appeal is enlarged by statute, any party who is
aggrieved by an appealable order, or a fiduciary whose estate
or trust is so aggrieved, may appeal
therefrom." The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has
"Aggrieved person" has acquired a particular
meaning in the law. In William Penn [Parking Garage, Inc.
v. Pittsburgh], we explained that the core concept of
standing was that a party had to be "aggrieved."
[346 A.2d 269');">346 A.2d 269, 280-81 (Pa. 1975)]. And, "aggrieved"
when used in terms of standing is generally understood to
mean that the person "has a substantial, direct and
immediate interest in ...