Tuesday, December 31, 2013

3 Grounds for Appeal without Preservation and Contested Adoption Petitions Must be Resolved Through Trial

S.C. v. State of Utah, 2013 UT 26  Utah Supreme Court May 7, 2013

Grandmother sought to adopt her grandson.  Mothers parental rights were terminated and Foster Parents also sought to adopt. The trial court found that under In Re: A.B., the foster parents had priority and they were permitted to adopt.  Grandmother appeals.  This case was certified directly to the Supreme Court by the Court of Appeals.

The Court first finds that while Grandmothers Brief failed to cite where in the record she preserved her claim, that in the reply brief the preservation issue was adequately addressed. And that while A.B. was not directly addressed by Grandmother at the trial level, she did address the best interest standard which opens the door to that argument on appeal.

The Court found that 1) the Best Interest of the child is paramount and 2) in order to evaluate the stability and the likelihood of future disruption in adoptive placements.  In order to evaluate those factors, a full evidentiary hearing is required in contested cases like this one. Reversed and remanded.

Courts have the option of hearing the Petitions together or having separate hearings on the adoption case when privacy is a concern.

Full opinion available at: http://www.utcourts.gov/opinions/supopin/InreCC1326050713.pdf

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