The Appellate Group

In re D.S.

In re D.S., 2023 UT App 98 (Harris, J.)

Parental Rights

The juvenile court terminated Father’s parental rights to facilitate adoption by Father’s mother. In so ruling, it rejected Father’s argument that a permanent custody and guardianship would suit the situation better than adoption. The Utah Court of Appeals reversed, holding:

  • The juvenile court’s decision was against the clear weight of the evidence.
  • Practice tip: A prospective adoptive parent should not present evidence about a child’s desire regarding termination. The better practice is for a guardian ad litem or a professional, such as a mental health counselor, to provide that testimony.
  • Practice tip: Even an incarcerated parent may build and maintain a meaningful relationship with their child that will survive termination proceedings.
  • Judicial tip: It is more difficult to establish that termination is in the child’s best interest when it is unlikely that a parent will not be cut out of the child’s life.

Read the full court opinion