The Appellate Group

In re K.K.

In re K.K., 2023 UT App 14 (Christiansen Forester, J.)

Child Welfare

Arising out of the same facts as In re K.K., 2023 UT App 13, the court of appeals considered Mother’s appeal of the juvenile court’s adjudication of abuse and neglect. The Utah Court of Appeal affirmed the juvenile court’s adjudication of neglect as it related to Mother and declined to address her arguments regarding the abuse adjudication, holding:

  • “Although Mother was a victim of domestic violence, her decision to knowingly return to Father and to protect him rather than to protect the children despite her knowledge that the children were aware of the abuse in the home satisfies the statutory definition of neglect.” Id. ¶ 11.
  • “[T]he primary purpose of the State’s petition alleging neglect was to protect the children, not to punish mother.” And the State’s evidence of neglect was sufficient. Id. ¶ 20.
  • Like Father, Mother could not show prejudice from the juvenile court’s abuse adjudication as the neglect adjudication still stood and would require the same services.
  • Judge Harris wrote a concurring opinion. Judge Harris concurred in the result and wrote separately to offer a “word of caution” to juvenile courts finding that a parent who is the victim of domestic violence has “abused” or “neglected” his or her children by allowing them to be exposed to domestic violence in the home. Although Utah’s statutory definitions of those terms are broad enough to make it possible for a domestic violence victim to commit abuse or neglect, courts should exercise caution in doing so. Id. ¶ 21. 

Read the full court opinion