The Appellate Group

In re S.T.

In re S.T., 2022 UT App 130 (Christiansen Forster, J.)

Child Welfare

The juvenile court ordered DCFS to provide Mother with reunification services. The court approved a plan Mother and DCFS had created together. Mother did not comply with the plan. Following a bench trial, the juvenile court entered an order terminating Mother’s parental rights to her three children. On appeal, Mother contended that the juvenile court erred when it determined that the State had made reasonable efforts to provide reunification services. Specifically, Mother argued that domestic violence services should have been included in the plan and that the plan provided insufficient mental health services. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed, holding:

  • Mother failed to raise a challenge to the juvenile court’s determination below. Thus, her claim could only be reviewed for plain error.
  • The Court held that the plan contained sufficient avenues through which Mother could receive domestic violence services. Moreover, Mother had sufficient opportunity to participate in the service plan’s drafting. Thus, if she felt that the plan was insufficient, she had an opportunity to add to it.
  • Finally, evidence showed that Mother consistently failed to meet the plan’s requirements. Thus, even if plain error had existed, Mother could not show harm.

Read the full court opinion