Dept. of Human Services v. T.L.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Juvenile Law
  • Date Filed: 07-27-2016
  • Case #: A159576
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Lagesen, J. for the Court; Hadlock, C.J.; Ortega, J.; Duncan, J.; Egan, J.; Garrett, J.; Flynn, J.; & DeHoog, J. Tookey, J. dissenting; Haselton, S.J.; Armstrong, J.; Sercombe, J.; & Devore, J.

When a parent seeks to dismiss juvenile court jurisdiction at a time when the permanency plan is something other than reunification, the proponent or proponents of ongoing jurisdiction may invoke a presumption, based on the plan, that the jurisdictional bases continues to make it unsafe for the child to return home. If the presumption is invoked, a parent seeking dismissal bears the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the jurisdictional bases no longer pose a current threat of serious loss or harm to the child that is reasonably likely to be realized.

Father appealed a juvenile court's order denying Father's motion to dismiss the juvenile court's jurisdiction over their minor son, which occurred light months after a permanency hearing where the juvenile court changed three-year-old child T’s permanency plan from reunification to adoption. On appeal, Father argued that, on the evidentiary record before it, the juvenile court could not permissibly conclude that T remained in danger as a result of the original bases of jurisdiction due to T’s aunt’s testimony about how she would assist Parents in caring for T in a way that would protect him from the threat of harm posed by the jurisdictional bases. DHS argued that the juvenile court correctly deemed the evidence regarding aunt to be irrelevant to the question before it, and that the court otherwise correctly determined that jurisdiction continued. The Court of Appeals concluded that the juvenile court erred when it determined that the evidence regarding aunt was not relevant to its determination whether to dismiss juvenile court jurisdiction. The court also concluded that parents bear the burden of proof on their motion to dismiss, provided that the permanency plan for T remains something other than renunciation, and that DHS (the proponents of ongoing jurisdiction) invoke the presumption that the bases for jurisdiction continue to make it unsafe for the minor to return home. In light of the juvenile court’s error, and its holding regarding the legal standard of the burden of proof, the Court of Appeals vacated and remanded the matter for the juvenile court to reconsider the motion to dismiss under these standards. Vacated and remanded.

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