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PHOENIX -- An Arizona appellate court said judges have leeway in determining whether the length of a parent's incarceration justifies terminating parental rights.

Arizona law allows judges to consider whether a parent's imprisonment means a child would be deprived of a normal home.

The Court of Appeals upheld a judge's refusal to terminate the parental rights of a prison inmate who is the father of a girl abandoned by her mother.

The judge took into consideration that the inmate might be released with a matter of months, but state officials said the entire length of his sentence mattered.

However, the Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the judge was aware of the full sentence but concluded that the man's possible early release was relevant in deciding whether to terminate his parental rights.

Associated Press,

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