In re LLB
In re LLB, 2023 UT App 66 (Oliver, J.)
Mother and Father had Child. Shortly after Child’s birth, Father relapsed on controlled substances and left Child and Mother. Mother eventually married. Over the course of approximately ten years, Father exercised his visitation rights with varying consistency. At times, Mother stymied Father’s attempts to visit Child fearing the effects of his alcohol and drug abuse on Child. Eventually, Mother and Stepfather filed a petition for adoption/termination of parental rights. The district court found four grounds for termination and found that termination was in Child’s best interest. The court of appeals reversed the district court’s termination of Father’s parental rights, holding in part:
- The district court’s best interest determination was not based on clear and convincing evidence. For example, although the district court found that Child “wants to be adopted by Stepfather and the two have an excellent relationship,” “there was no evidence” that this relationship was dependent upon termination of Father’s parental rights.
- Practice tip: The court reiterated that “‘categorical concerns’ about the lack of permanence of an option other than adoption are not enough, otherwise ‘termination and adoption would be strictly necessary across the board.’”