The Appellate Group

In re H.M.

In re H.M., 2023 UT App 122 (Tenney, J.)

Parental Rights

Mother repeatedly encouraged Children to make false allegations of abuse against Father. The Department of Child and Family Services petitioned to terminate Mother’s rights to Child. After trial, the juvenile court concluded Mother “cannot stop” her behavior and terminated her rights. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed, holding:

  • The juvenile court did not err in relying on past events to support its present-tense best interest analysis.
  • The juvenile court did not fail to account for the possibility of ordering ongoing supervised visits in its strictly necessary determination.
  • Practice tips: The Court of Appeals recognized “information gaps” in this record. Parties should prepare a complete record for appellate review and recognize that the reviewing court will operate with the record given it (complete or not).
  • Judicial tip: Parental rights should not be terminated if a parent makes a good faith report of suspected abuse.
  • Judicial tip: The “past is never dead,” and so juvenile courts’ best-interest determinations can rely on patterns of parental behavior that likely will “forecast” the parent’s future behavior. 

Read the full court opinion