The Appellate Group

In re GD

In re GD, 2021 UT 19 (Durrant, C.J.)


A juvenile court terminated Mother’s and Father’s parental rights to two children. The Utah Supreme Court affirmed, holding:

  • In termination proceedings, Utah law requires juvenile courts to apply a clear-and-convincing standard of proof, not a beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard of proof; the court rejects the invitation to raise the standard of proof to beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Although there is some language in State ex rel. B.R., 2007 UT 82, 171 P.3d 435, that appears to require appellate courts to give use a uniquely deferential standard of review when reviewing termination decisions, the court emphasizes that on review, appellate courts are to defer to juvenile court’s factual determinations and review their conclusions with exacting focus on the evidentiary standard. Appellate courts should not only consider what facts were left out but assess whether the juvenile court’s determination that the clear-and-convincing standard has been met goes against the clear weight of the evidence.
  • The juvenile court gave a full and careful consideration of all the evidence presented with regard to the constitutional rights and the claims of the parent when deciding whether termination was in the children’s best interests and strictly necessary.

Read the full court opinion