The Appellate Group

In re J.J.W.

In re J.J.W., 2022 UT App 116 (Harris, J.)

Child Welfare

Father had drug problems and placed Children in the guardianship with Grandmother twice when he relapsed. When Father became sober, he sought to reconnect with Children, but Grandmother refused his contact and petitioned to adopt Children. The district court terminated Father’s rights as part of the adoption process. The Utah Court of Appeals reversed, holding:

  • In cases initiated by a private petition to terminate a parent’s rights, it is important for courts to carefully assess a parent’s efforts to improve and specifically set forth reasons why it is in the child’s best interest to not be returned to the parent.
  • Here, the court did not consider a less drastic alternative to termination: permanent guardianship in favor of Grandmother. The court did not explain why it rejected that option or why it would be in Children’s best interests to terminate Father’s rights rather than place Children in a permanent guardianship with Grandmother.

Read the full court opinion