The Appellate Group

In re Z.C.W.

In re Z.C.W., 2021 UT App 98 (Harris, J.)

Parental Rights

Mother sought to terminate the parental rights of Father. Following remand after a prior appeal, the juvenile court undertook the best-interest analysis based on the evidence in 2017 (the time of the previous trial), although Mother had moved to amend her termination provision to put forth relevant facts and circumstances that had developed since trial. The juvenile court denied Mother’s motion and her petition to terminate Father’s rights. The Utah Court of Appeals reversed:

  • A post-remand best-interest inquiry should be conducted in a present-tense fashion, taking into account the facts and circumstances as they exist at the time of the analysis. However, a court need not conduct a new evidentiary hearing if the facts are not alleged to have changed in a manner that would affect the court’s analysis. Here, the juvenile court erred by refusing to consider in any fashion the new evidence proffered by Mother.
  • Of Note: In a footnote, the court of appeals noted a debate concerning the applicability of rule 59 of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure and its standards to Utah Code § 78A-6-1108(3) (the statutory provision governing “new evidence that might affect the court’s decree” concerning parental rights), but the court left this issue open.

Read the full court opinion