Monday, March 7, 2011

In Child Welfare Trials, Parties are Permitted to Present Additional Evidence After the Initial Close of Their Case.

State of Utah In Re: M.G., M.G. v. State of Utah, 2011 UT App 5 (Utah Court of Appeals January 6, 2011).
At trial for termination of parental rights, the State presented its case and Father presented his defense.  At the close of Father’s case, he challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to terminate his parental rights.  The Juvenile Court stated that it had to alternatives (1) to dismiss the petition and require the state to refile, or (2) allow both parties the opportunity to put on additional evidence.  The Juvenile court chose the second option and reopened the case to accept further evidence.  At the conclusion of trial, the Juvenile Court terminated Father’s parental rights.  Father appealed.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals determined that it is within the Juvenile Court’s sound discretion to allow additional evidence to enable the Juvenile Court to make an informed decision.  This is based on the highly equitable nature of the Juvenile Court and the requirement to consider the best interest of the child in child welfare cases.
Note: It is the author’s belief that this decision could be used in all family law cases regarding the best interests of the child (i.e. if you lose on day one ask for an additional day to present further evidence)

1 comment:

Scott Wiser said...

An interesting decision. I think you're on to something with how para. 3 could be expanded to potentially any domestic relations matter involving custody. I can't say I'm opposed to such a rule, but it's one I know litigants will try oh-so-carefully to abuse. I'd imagine later case law will flesh out the extent of a court's discretion to consider additional evidence before reaching the "enough is enough" threshold.


:: By using this blog site you understand that this information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to constitute legal advice. This blog site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state.::


:: (c) 2009-2014 D. Grant Dickinson some rights reserved ::