The judges urge the Colo Supreme Court docket to supply steering on custody circumstances Information
A three-judge panel of the Colorado Court of Appeals asked the state Supreme Court to provide clear guidance on how to review custody cases after finding two conflicting guidelines from the High Court.
“Uncertainty about our role in reviewing juvenile court decisions in these all-too-common cases may delay much-needed permanence. We respectfully urge the Supreme Court to clarify, ”wrote Judge Anthony J. Navarro in a November 5 statement.
The case in question concerned Adams County’s Human Resources Department, which in June 2017 was concerned about the neglect or abuse of two children identified as AA and EA due to their parents’ drug use and domestic violence. According to reports, mother and father have also disregarded the basic and educational needs of the children.
Eventually, a juvenile judge ended the parental rights of both adults.
The goal of the Colorado Act is to maintain relationships between parents and minor children as much as possible. If the state seeks to end custody of the parents, it must sensibly seek to rehabilitate the parents and reunite the families after being placed outside the home.
If a court receives clear evidence that a parent has failed to adhere to a treatment plan or that the person is unsuitable as a parent and is unlikely to change their behavior, it can end the right of the parents.
However, the appellate body found two seemingly contradicting judgments from the Supreme Court on how it is supposed to handle the findings of a juvenile court. In a 1982 ruling, the judges instructed the appellate judges to only reverse a termination of parental rights if the lower court’s findings were “so false” that they had no objective support.
More than 30 years later, the Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that reviewing a dismissal decision was not a “purely factual issue” but the underlying facts and legal findings that emerge from this information.
In other words, the appeals court has to grapple with the question of whether to turn to the work of juvenile courts almost entirely or to re-examine their conclusions.
“This change, if indeed a change, changes significantly the role of this court in reviewing cases of denial of parental rights,” noted Navarro.
Zaven Saroyan, a Colorado Springs attorney who represented one of the parents on the AA and EA cases, believed that appeals judges should be able to reconsider any custody matter.
“The appeals court is to be commended for addressing this issue in relation to the ongoing conflict in the review standards,” he said. “I believe the Colorado appeals courts should consider the final questions of the district court, such as whether the DHS made reasonable efforts to reunite a family as a legal conclusion.”
In the Adams County case, the panel was able to bypass the question of which standard to apply because the judges found that the court and county council clearly had not adjusted visiting policies to promote rehabilitation and family reunification.
In particular, the judge made a mistake by requiring parents to be sober for two weeks as a condition for their children to visit, which he believed would prevent further harm to AA and EA
“But the judge did not explain how he came to this conclusion,” said Navarro. “There was no evidence that a parent attended a visit while in a high or that a parent missed or interrupted a visit because of a high.”
Since the mother never showed sobriety for two consecutive weeks, she could not visit her children at all. In the father’s case, he demonstrated clean drug tests and resumed the visit. But the county revoked contact with one of his children after reports the father became angry and acted disrespectfully.
“It is unclear why the department took this drastic step without making an effort to help Father and EA repair their relationship or determine if another level of visiting service would meet EA’s needs, such as professionally monitored or monitored visitation “, so the court of appeal decided.
The panel also agreed that the county did not provide the father with any drug abuse treatment funds or referrals that would enable his rehabilitation.
In returning the case to the juvenile court, judges reversed the complete interruption of the visit between parents and children, unless there was sufficient information to suggest otherwise.