Dept. of Human Services v. R.F.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Family Law
  • Date Filed: 09-27-2023
  • Case #: A180340
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Lagesen, C.J. for the Court; Mooney, J.; & Armstrong, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

“The court may grant the motion for intervention if the person moving to intervene in the case proves by a preponderance of the evidence that: (A) A caregiver relationship exists between the person and the child or ward; (B) The intervention is in the best interests of the child or ward; (C) The reason for intervention and the specific relief sought are consistent with the best interests of the child or ward; and (D) The existing parties cannot adequately present the case.” ORS 419B.116(5)(c)(A) - (D)

Appellants moved to intervene in this juvenile dependency case where three-year-old B is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe (“The Tribe”). Appellants served as B’s foster parents for 22 months until B was reunified with her mother. B was placed with another set of foster parents (“the Ls”) after being removed from her mother’s care a second time. Appellants sought to intervene for the purpose of having B placed with them again. The juvenile court denied their motion to intervene and determined that appellants had not proved that they met the statutory requirements for intervention. Appellants argued that because neither B’s lawyer nor B’s CASA objected to B’s placement with the Ls, B’s interests were not represented. However, at the time of placement, the tribe had communicated that it did not view Appellants as a relative placement for purposes of ICWA. ORS 419B.116 gives a juvenile court discretion to allow intervention in a dependency case by a person who has a “caregiver relationship” with a child, as that term is defined by statute. ORS 419B.116(5)(c). The juvenile court correctly recognized that under ORS 419B.116(5)(c), potential intervenors are required to show by a preponderance of evidence that “the existing parties cannot adequately present the case.” Accordingly, appellants were unable to demonstrate that the juvenile court committed reversible error when it denied the motion to intervene. Affirmed.

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