April 19, 2018

Colorado Court of Appeals: Judge Committed Reversable Error by Not Recusing Where Judge Was Previously GAL in Different Case Involving Mother

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People in Interest of C.Y. and J.O. on Thursday, April 5, 2018.

Dependency and Neglect—Recusal—Disqualification.

In this dependency and neglect proceeding, during the termination hearing, the judge realized she had served as a guardian ad litem (GAL) on a different case involving mother’s oldest child. The judge declined to recuse herself from the case over mother’s objection and terminated mother’s parental rights.

On appeal, mother contended that the judge erred by not recusing herself from the termination hearing based on her having served as the GAL of mother’s older child in 2005. The Code of Judicial Conduct requires judges to disqualify themselves in any proceeding in which their impartiality might reasonably be questioned. Here, both the GAL and the Department of Human Services discussed the 2005 case and urged the court to rely on it when ruling on the termination motion, which the court did. Under these circumstances, the judge created the appearance of impropriety by presiding over the case and abused her discretion by not recusing herself.

The judgment was reversed and the case was remanded for a new termination hearing before a different judicial officer.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Several JDF and C.R.C.P. Forms and Instructions Amended in January

The Colorado State Judicial Branch amended 41 forms in January, including forms in the adoption, appellate, civil, criminal, domestic relations, and name change categories. Several bills were amended in February also; these will be discussed in a future post.

The forms amended in January are available here as PDF downloads, and are available as Word documents and templates from the State Judicial forms page. Additionally, the Filing Fees (JDF 1) were revised in November 2017, along with six other forms, all of which are available here.

ADOPTION

  • JDF 340 – “Oath or Affirmation of Confidentiality Regarding Motion to Open Adoption and Relinquishment Files” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 341 – “Motion and Affidavit to Open Adoption File by Adoptive Parent or Custodial Grandparent” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 342 – “Motion and Affidavit to Open Adoption File by Sibling of an Adoptee or Half-Sibling of an Adoptee” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 343 – “Motion and Affidavit to Open Adoption File by Adoptee” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 454 – “Verified Statement of Fees Charged” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 501 – “Petition for Adoption” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 502 – “Petition for Stepparent Adoption” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 503 – “Petition for Custodial Adoption” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 504 – “Petition for Second Parent Adoption” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 505 – “Petition for Kinship Adoption” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 508 – “Consent to Adoption – Sole Legal Parent” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 509 – “Consent to Adoption – Custodial Parent” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 510 – “Consent to Adoption – Non-Custodial Parent” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 511 – “Consent to Adoption – Child Over 12 Years of Age” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 517 – “Motion and Affidavit for Publication of Notice” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 527 – “Petition for Validation of Foreign Decree of Adoption” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 528 – “Petition for Adult Adoption” (Revised 1/18)

AGISTOR’S LIEN

  • JDF 131 – “Instructions for An Agistor’s Lien” (Revised 1/18)

APPELLATE

  • JDF 605 – “Instructions for Appealing Property Tax Assessments with the District Court” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 640 – “Notice of Limited Appearance by an Attorney with Consent of Pro Se Party Under C.A.R. 5 in an Appellate Matter” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 641 – “Consent to Limit Appearance by an Attorney Under C.A.R. 5 in an Appellate Matter” (Revised 1/18)

CIVIL

  • JDF 105 – “Pattern Interrogatories Under C.R.C.P. 369(g) – Individual” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 108 – “Pattern Interrogatories Under C.R.C.P. 369(g) – Business” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 253 – “Motion and Order to Set Aside Dismissal/Default Judgment” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 256 – “Notice of Representation by Attorney” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 622 – “Proposed Case Management Order” (Revised 1/18)

CRIMINAL

  • C.R.C.P. Form 4 – “Petition for Post-Conviction Relief Pursuant to Crim. P. 35(c)” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 221 – “Instructions for Filing a Municipal or County Court Criminal Appeal” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 301 – “Instructions to File an Expungement Juvenile “JV” or Municipal Case” (Revised 11/17)
  • JDF 302 – “Petition for Expungement of Records” (Revised 11/17)
  • JDF 304 – “Order of Expungement of Records” (Revised 11/17)
  • JDF 323(a) – “Instructions to File a Petition to Seal Records Related to Illegal Possession or Consumption of Alcohol or Marijuana by an Underage Person (MIP) or Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia (Offenses Committed Prior to July 1, 2014)” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 323(b) – “Instructions to File a Petition to Seal Records Related to Illegal Possession or Consumption of Alcohol or Marijuana by an Underage Person (MIP) or Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia (Offenses Committed After July 1, 2014)” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 324 – “Petition for Expungement of Records for a Law Enforcement Contact Not Resulting in Referral to Another Agency” (Revised 11/17)
  • JDF 326 – “Order of Expungement of Records for a Law Enforcement Contact Not Resulting in Referral to Another Agency” (Revised 11/17)
  • JDF 460I – “Instructions to Discontinue Sex Offender Registration for a Colorado and Non-Colorado Conviction” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 477 – “Motion to Seal Criminal Justice Records” (Revised 10/17)
  • JDF 611 – “Instructions to File a Petition to Seal Criminal Conviction Records Involving Controlled Substances and Petty Offenses and Municipal Violations” (Revised 1/18)

DOMESTIC RELATIONS

  • JDF 1111 – “Sworn Financial Statement” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 1801 – “Instructions for Completing an Income Assignment Based on Child Support and/or Maintenance Orders” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 1816 – “Motion and Affidavit for Citation for Contempt of Court” (Revised 1/18)
  • No JDF Number – “Income Withholding for Support Information” (Revised 1/18)

FILING FEES

  • JDF 1 – “Filing Fees, Surcharges, and Costs in Colorado Courts” (Revised 11/17)

GARNISHMENT/EVICTIONS

  • C.R.C.P. Form 26 – “Writ of Continuing Garnishment” (Revised 1/18)
  • C.R.C.P. Form 30 – “Claim of Exemption to Writ of Garnishment with Notice” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 100 – “Instructions for Forcible Entry and Detainer (FED)/Eviction” (Revised 1/18)

NAME CHANGE

  • JDF 420 – “Instructions for Filing a Change of Name (Minor)” (Revised 1/18)
  • JDF 427 – “Public Notice of Petition for Change of Name” (Revised 1/18)

PROTECTED PERSONS

  • JDF 396 – “Instructions for Protected Person Motion to Modify/Dismiss Protection Order” (Revised 1/18)

For all of State Judicial’s JDF forms, click here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Under Parties’ Circumstances, District Court was Correct in Finding No Presumptive Child Support Amount Existed

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re Marriage of Boettcher on Thursday, March 8, 2018.

Post-Dissolution—Modification of Child Support—Child Support GuidelinesPresumptive AmountDiscretion—RetroactiveAttorney Fees.

The parties’ dissolution of marriage agreement that no child support would be owed by either of them was incorporated into the decree. Mother subsequently moved to modify child support, alleging changed income resulting in more than a 10% change in the amount of support that would be due. The district court ordered father to pay mother child support of $3,000 per month as of the date she moved to modify, as well as 70% of mother’s attorney fees.

On appeal, father argued that the district court erred by determining there was no rebuttable presumptive child support obligation when the parents’ combined incomes exceed the highest level of the statutory income schedule, $30,000. He argued that for combined incomes above this amount, the child support obligation at the highest level is the presumptive amount, such that any greater award constitutes a guidelines deviation. The statute’s plain language does not support this argument, but rather states that, in this circumstance, the judge may use discretion to determine child support, but that the obligation must not be less than it would be based on the highest level. Further, deviation does not apply when the court awards more than the amount of support from the schedule’s highest level. Here, father alone earns $92,356 per month and the parties together earn $105,699 per month. The district court was correct in finding that there was no presumptive child support amount under these circumstances, that there was a minimum presumptive amount under the guidelines, and that it could use its discretion to determine a higher amount. Further, the court made sufficient findings concerning the relevant statutory factors and properly exercised its discretion.

Father also argued that the court erred by retroactively modifying the child support back to the date that mother moved to modify. A child support modification should be effective as of the filing date of the motion unless the court finds this “would cause undue hardship or substantial injustice.” Father did not argue that applying the statute would cause undue hardship or substantial injustice, and the district court did not abuse its discretion.

Lastly, father argued it was an abuse of discretion for the court to award mother a portion of her attorney fees without making sufficient findings. The district court is afforded great latitude in apportioning costs and fees appropriate to the circumstances in a given case. The findings were amply supported by the record.

Mother contended the appeal was frivolous and requested appellate attorney fees. The court of appeals denied her request.

The order was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Courts May Only Appoint Receivers for Marijuana Businesses who are Licensed Under Marijuana Code

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re Marriage of Yates on Thursday, March 8, 2018.

Dissolution of Marriage—Receiver—Colorado Medical Marijuana Code—Retail Marijuana Code.

Petitioner-Appellee Yates filed a petition to dissolve her marriage to respondent-appellee Humphrey. She requested the appointment of a receiver over marital property, which included marijuana businesses. A number of these marijuana businesses were licensed medical and recreational marijuana entities. The court appointed Sterling Consulting Corporation, including its principal Richard Block, as the receiver. When the court entered the receivership order, neither Block nor his employees held the licenses required by the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code and the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code to own, operate, manage, control, or work in a licensed marijuana business.

After learning of the receivership order, the Colorado Department of Revenue, officially acting as the State Licensing Authority (SLA), moved to intervene and modify the receivership order by removing the receiver, at least until Block and his employees obtained the requisite licenses. The court granted the motion to intervene, but denied the motion to modify.

On appeal, SLA challenged the court’s authority to appoint receivers who are not licensed to operate marijuana businesses. A district court may only appoint a receiver for a marijuana business who complies with Colorado’s marijuana licensing laws.

The order appointing the receiver was reversed and the case was remanded with directions.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: District Court Erred in Summarily Dismissing Conversion and Unjust Enrichment Claims

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Scott v. Scott on Thursday, February 22, 2018.

Torts—Conversion—Unjust Enrichment—Life Insurance Proceeds—Motion to Dismiss under C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5) and (6)—Attorney Fees and Costs.

Roseann’s marriage to Melvin Scott was dissolved. Their separation agreement provided that Melvin’s life insurance policies were to be maintained until Roseann remarried, and at that time the beneficiaries could be changed to the children of the parties. Upon emancipation of the children, if Roseann had remarried, Melvin could change the beneficiary to whomever he wished. A Prudential life insurance policy was the policy at issue in this case.

After the divorce, Melvin married Donna and remained married to her until his death. Roseann never remarried. A few years before Melvin died and decades after his divorce from Roseann, Melvin changed the named beneficiary on his life insurance policies to Donna. Melvin died and Donna received the proceeds from his life insurance policies. Roseann sent a demand letter to Donna, requesting the proceeds pursuant to the separation agreement. The proceeds were placed in a trust account pending the outcome of this litigation.

Roseann sued Donna in Mesa County District Court, alleging civil theft, conversion, and unjust enrichment/constructive trust. Donna did not answer but removed the case to federal district court based on administration of the veteran life insurance policies by the federal government. She then moved to dismiss Roseann’s claims under a theory of federal preemption. Ultimately, the federal court agreed with the preemption argument and dismissed Roseann’s claims with prejudice as to the veteran policies but remanded the remaining claims to the Mesa County District Court for resolution regarding the Prudential policy.

Donna filed a motion in the district court to dismiss under C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5) and (6), arguing that Roseann’s claims failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted and that she had failed to join Melvin’s estate, a necessary party. The district court granted the motion and a subsequent motion for attorney fees and costs.

On appeal, the court of appeals first examined whether Roseann had stated claims sufficient to withstand the plausibility standard required to survive a motion to dismiss under C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5). To state a claim for civil theft, a plaintiff must allege the elements of criminal theft, which requires the specific intent of the defendant to permanently deprive the owner of the benefit of his property. Roseann made a single, conclusory allegation, repeating the language in the statute, that Donna acted with the requisite intent to state a claim for civil theft. The court concluded that, without more, the allegation was not entitled to the assumption of truth, and the district court did not err in dismissing the civil theft claim.

Conversion, unlike civil theft, does not require that the convertor act with the specific intent to permanently deprive the owner of his property. Even a good faith recipient of funds who receives them without knowledge that they belonged to another can be held liable for conversion. Here, Roseann adequately alleged that Donna’s dominion and control over the Prudential policy proceeds were unauthorized because of the separation agreement language and Donna’s refusal to return the allegedly converted funds. Roseann pleaded each element of conversion sufficiently for that claim to be plausible and withstand a request for dismissal under C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5).

Similarly, the court concluded it was error to dismiss Roseann’s claim for unjust enrichment and constructive trust. In general, a person who is unjustly enriched at the expense of another is subject to liability in restitution. Here, Roseann alleged that Donna received a benefit that was promised to Roseann in the separation agreement and it would be inequitable for Donna to retain the funds. Roseann asked the court to impose a constructive trust on the assets. While this may be a difficult case in that two arguably innocent parties are asserting legal claims to the same insurance proceeds, resolution should be left to the fact finder and not resolved under a C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5) motion to dismiss.

It was not clear whether the district court had dismissed the claims for failure to join a necessary party under C.R.C.P. 12(b)(6), so the court addressed this issue as well. Here, the court held that Melvin’s estate was not a necessary party because Donna has possession of the proceeds at issue, and thus complete relief can be accorded between Roseann and Donna. In addition, the life insurance proceeds were never a part of Melvin’s estate assets and therefore the estate has no interest in those proceeds. Further, this is not an action for enforcement of the separation agreement, but is essentially an action in tort. The district court erred by dismissing the case under C.R.C.P. 12(b)(6).

Lastly, Roseann contended that Donna is not entitled to attorney fees and costs because the court erred in granting Donna’s motion to dismiss. The court agreed.

The judgment was affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the case was remanded with directions. The award of attorney fees and costs was vacated.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: District Court Had Jurisdiction to Consider Wife’s Motion Filed One Day Before Expiration of Jurisdictional Period

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re Marriage of Runge on Thursday, February 22, 2018.

Dissolution of Marriage—Post-Decree—C.R.C.P. 16.2(e)(10)—Subject Matter Jurisdiction—Disclosures.

In this post-dissolution of marriage dispute, wife moved under C.R.C.P. 16.2(e)(10) to discover and allocate assets that she alleged husband did not disclose or misrepresented in the proceedings surrounding their 2011 separation agreement. Husband moved to dismiss wife’s motion and the district court granted the dismissal.

As an initial matter, husband contended that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction under C.R.C.P. 16.2(e)(10) because the five-year period during which it may reallocate assets expired the day after wife moved for such relief. C.R.C.P. 16.2(e)(10) does not limit the court’s jurisdiction to rule on timely motions if the five-year period expires before the ruling. Therefore, the district court had jurisdiction to rule on the motion because wife’s motion was timely filed within the five-year period under the rule.

On appeal, wife contended that the district court erred by not applying the “plausibility” standard announced in Warne v. Hall, 2016 CO 50, when granting husband’s motion to dismiss. The Warne “plausibility” standard does not apply here because wife’s motion was not a pleading and husband’s motion to dismiss was not pursuant to C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5).

Wife also contended that the district court erred by ruling that she did not state sufficient grounds in her motion and that the court should have allowed her to conduct discovery to prove her allegations. Wife did not allege that husband failed to disclose specific items mandated under C.R.C.P. 16.2(e)(10) and husband certified that he provided all such items. Instead, wife asserted suspicions and speculations that husband likely failed to disclose and misrepresented assets. In light of the information about husband’s assets that wife had pre-decree, and her choice to enter into a separation agreement rather than to evaluate this information, wife’s motion did not state sufficient grounds to trigger an allocation of misstated or omitted assets. Further, C.R.C.P. 16.2(e)(10) was not intended to create a right for an ex-spouse to conduct discovery into the other spouse’s assets post-decree.

The order was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Income Eligibility Guidelines Updated; Several CJDs Affected

On Thursday, February 22, 2018, the Colorado State Judicial Branch released revisions to the Income Eligibility Guidelines. Several Chief Justice Directives were affected by these revisions:

  • CJD 98-01 – “Costs for Indigent Persons in Civil Matters”
  • CJD 04-04 – “Appointment of State-Funded Counsel in Criminal Cases and for Contempt of Court”
  • CJD 04-05 – “Appointment and Payment Procedures for Court-appointed Counsel, Guardians ad litem, Child and Family Investigators, and Court Visitors paid by the Judicial Department in proceedings under Titles 12, 13, 14, 15, 19 (special respondents in dependency and neglect only), 22, 25.5, and 27, C.R.S.”
  • CJD 04-06 – “Court Appointments Through the Office of the Child’s Representative”
  • CJD 14-01 – “Appointment of State-Funded Counsel in Juvenile Delinquency Cases”
  • CJD 16-02 – “Court Appointments Through the Office of Respondent Parents’ Counsel”

All of the Colorado Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Directives can be accessed here.

Colorado Supreme Court: Foster Parents Lacked Standing to Challenge District Court Denial of Parental Rights Termination

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People in Interest of C.W.B., Jr. on Monday, February 5, 2018.

Children’s Code—Dependency or Neglect Proceedings—Standing on Appeal.

The Colorado Supreme Court reviewed whether the foster parents in this case had standing to appeal the trial court’s denial of a motion to terminate the parent–child legal relationship. The foster parents intervened in the trial court proceedings pursuant to C.R.S. § 19-3-507(5)(a) and participated in a hearing on the guardian ad litem’s (GAL) motion to terminate the parent-child legal relationship between the mother and the child. The trial court denied the motion. Neither the state nor the GAL appealed the trial court’s ruling, but the foster parents did. The court of appeals concluded that the foster parents had standing to appeal the trial court’s ruling.

The supreme court concluded that the foster parents in this case did not have a legally protected interest in the outcome of termination proceedings, and that C.R.S. § 19-3-507(5)(a) did not automatically confer standing on them to appeal the juvenile court’s order denying the termination motion, where neither the Department of Social Services nor the GAL sought review of the trial court’s ruling. Because the GAL was statutorily obligated to advocate for the best interests of the child, including on appeal, there was no need to confer standing on the foster parents to represent the best interests of the child on appeal. The court therefore reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and remanded the case with instructions to dismiss the appeal.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Order Dismissing Dependency and Neglect Proceeding Not Final, Appealable Order

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People in Interest of M.R.M. on Thursday, January 25, 2018.

Dependency and Neglect—Final and Appealable Order—Lack of Jurisdiction.

The Garfield County Department of Human Services (Department) filed a petition in dependency and neglect, naming mother and M.M. (father of two children and stepfather to the third, M.A.M.) as respondents. The children were initially placed with their maternal grandmother, but then M.M. moved from Florida to Colorado and sought custody of all three children. The children were placed with him under the protective supervision of the Department. The court adjudicated the three children dependent and neglected with respect to mother. The court adopted treatment plans for mother and M.M., but shortly thereafter he moved to modify the order under which he shared custody of the children with mother and to dismiss the dependency and neglect case. M.M. shared custody of the two older children with mother under a domestic relations order and asserted he should have custody of M.A.M. as her psychological parent. The juvenile court entered an order allocating parental responsibilities for the children between M.M. and mother (the APR order). The court concluded it had jurisdiction to allocate parental responsibilities as to M.A.M. pursuant to C.R.S. 14-10-123(1)(d), which provides that a proceeding concerning allocation of parental responsibilities may be commenced by someone other than a parent who has been allocated parental responsibilities through a juvenile court order. Approximately two weeks later, the court entered an order terminating its jurisdiction and closing the case, from which order mother appealed.

The Colorado Court of Appeals requested supplemental briefs addressing whether mother’s appeal was timely and determined that the appealable order was the APR order. C.R.S. § 19-1-104(6) provides that entry of an order allocating parental responsibilities for a child who is the subject of a dependency and neglect proceeding requested by a party to the case, once filed in the county where the child will permanently reside, will be treated as any other decree in a proceeding allocating parental responsibilities. This action ends the dependency and neglect proceeding and transfers jurisdiction over the child to the district court. Such an order is final and appealable, and a party who wishes to appeal must file a notice of appeal within 21 days of entry of the order. Here, the juvenile court entered an APR order and ordered that it be certified into an existing custody proceeding in the district court as to M.M.’s children, and certified into a new domestic relations case as to M.A.M. Mother did not appeal from that order but rather appealed from the order purportedly terminating its jurisdiction and closing the dependency and neglect case. Mother’s appeal was untimely, and the court lacked jurisdiction to hear it.

However, mother argued the APR order wasn’t a final, appealable order because the juvenile court didn’t have jurisdiction to make the findings needed to grant APR to a nonparent. She contended that because the court did not adjudicate M.A.M. dependent and neglected with respect to her biological father, and the adjudication of the two older children with respect to father M.M. was still in “deferred” status, the APR order was invalid. The court rejected this argument, reasoning that the question was not whether the court had jurisdiction to enter the order, but whether it was final and appealable. The APR order here was final and appealable

Similarly, because mother failed to timely appeal the APR order, the court rejected mother’s argument that because the court failed to commence a paternity action it did not have independent jurisdiction under the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) to enter an order allocating parental responsibilities.

Finally, mother argued the APR order was not a final, appealable order because it did not fully resolve the right and liabilities of the parties as to paternity, support, and parental responsibilities with respect to M.A.M. Analyzing the issue under the UPA, the court concluded there was no need for a paternity proceeding as to M.A.M. The court rejected mother’s argument that the APR order did not fully resolve the rights and liabilities of the parties because it didn’t find anything else that needed to be resolved; the order addressed visitation, parenting time, and other matters relevant to the allocation or parental responsibilities between mother and M.M.

Mother also argued that the APR order was not final because it was subject to revision. Once it was entered and certified to the district court, jurisdiction to modify it was transferred to the district court, leaving nothing for the juvenile court to do. The court further noted that all orders concerning parenting time and decision-making responsibility may be modified when circumstances warrant a change.

Mother also raised an issue about noncompliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act. The court declined to address this because it lacked jurisdiction due to the untimeliness of the appeal.

The appeal was dismissed with prejudice for lack of an appealable order.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Juvenile Court Did Not Err in Failing to Make Written Finding of Dependency & Neglect

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People in Interest of J.W. on Monday, December 11, 2017.

Children’s Code—Dependency or Neglect Proceedings—Jurisdiction.

The supreme court reviewed whether a juvenile court validly terminated a mother’s parent-child legal relationship without first entering a formal written order adjudicating her children as dependent or neglected. The juvenile court accepted mother’s admission that her children were neglected or dependent, but did not enter a formal order adjudicating the children’s status as to mother before it terminated mother’s parental rights approximately a year later. The court of appeals held that the juvenile court lacked jurisdiction to terminate mother’s parental rights because it had not entered an order adjudicating the children’s status as dependent or neglected.

The supreme court held that the juvenile court’s acceptance of mother’s admission established the children’s status as dependent or neglected, thus fulfilling the purpose of the adjudicative process and permitting state intervention into the familial relationship. The juvenile court’s failure to enter an adjudicative order confirming the children’s status did not divest the juvenile court of jurisdiction to terminate mother’s parental rights in this case, nor did it impair the fundamental fairness of the proceedings or deprive the mother of due process under the circumstances of this case. Accordingly, the court reversed the court of appeals’ judgment and remanded the case to the court of appeals to consider mother’s other contentions on appeal.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Gives: Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center Compassionately Transforms the Lives of Abused and Neglected Children

Colorado Gives: CBA CLE Legal Connection is focusing on several legal charities in honor of Colorado Gives Day, December 5, 2017. These charities, and many, many others, greatly appreciate your donations of time and money.

childrens-law-center-logo-gFor over thirty-five years, the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center has provided compassionate legal advocacy and clinical services to children who have been abused or neglected. Through a team of legal professionals and social workers, the Children’s Law Center serves at-risk children and considers the whole child with each recommendation regarding the child’s best interest.

The Children’s Law Center also works for public policy change, working to make children a political priority at the local, state, and national levels. The Children’s Law Center has made great progress in this area. They created the first Colorado Child Protection Ombudsman Program, promoted a 2013 Senate Bill to reduce the number of child abuse fatalities in the state, promoted a 2013 House Bill to streamline the process to report child abuse, and much more.

The Children’s Law Center has several programs devoted to legal advocacy for children. The Education Program promotes the adoption of policies and procedures in the schools and legislature to recognize the impact of trauma on children’s learning behaviors, reduce school transfers for children in the child protection system, and redirect children in the school disciplinary system from the school-to-prison pipeline. The Children’s Law Center also has a caregiver advocacy program, a domestic violence program, a trauma-informed yoga program, and a therapeutic garden.

The Children’s Law Center relies on donations to continue providing compassionate legal advocacy to abused, neglected, and at-risk children. Their annual operating expenses total over one million dollars per year. Donate on Colorado Gives Day by clicking here or any day by filling out the form on this webpage.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Fault-Based Grounds for Dependency and Neglect Must Be Proved as to Each Parent

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People in Interest of M.M. and P.M. III on Thursday, November 16, 2017.

Dependency and Neglect—No Fault—Summary Judgment.

The Fremont County Department of Human Services (Department) filed a dependency and neglect petition concerning M.M. and P.M. III. Mother admitted that the children were dependent and neglected. Although father did not dispute that the children were in an injurious environment and were without proper parental care through no fault of a parent, he denied the allegations in the petition against him and requested an adjudicatory trial before a jury. The Department moved to adjudicate the children dependent and neglected by summary judgment. The trial court granted summary judgment and adjudicated the children dependent and neglected.

On appeal, father asserted that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment. He contended that the facts concerning him were disputed, the remaining undisputed facts concerned only mother, and the children could not be adjudicated dependent and neglected simply because the Department established that mother was a danger to the children. There are four statutory grounds for adjudication, two of which require a showing of fault as to each parent. The undisputed facts established that, with respect to the “no-fault” grounds, C.R.S. § 19-3-102(1)(c) and (e), the children were dependent and neglected and the trial court properly granted summary judgment on those statutory grounds. With respect to C.R.S. § 19-3-102(1)(a) and (b), however, the material facts concerning father’s conduct were disputed and thus the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on those grounds.

The judgment was affirmed in part and reversed in part. The case was remanded for the trial court to amend the order of adjudication to reflect that the children were adjudicated dependent and neglected only under C.R.S. § 19-3-102(1)(c) and (e).

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.