The People of the State of Colorado, Petitioner-Appellee, In the Interest of C.J., a Child, and Concerning L.J.G., Respondent-Appellant.
Paso County District Court No. 14JV1642 Honorable Linda
Billings Vela, Judge
Folsom, County Attorney, Devon Doyle, Assistant County
Attorney, Colorado Springs, Colorado, for Petitioner-Appellee
N. H. Ulrich, Guardian Ad Litem Paula M. Ray, P.C., Paula M.
Ray, Denver, Colorado, for Respondent-Appellant
1 In this dependency and neglect action, mother, L.J.G.,
appeals the judgment terminating her parent-child
relationship with her daughter, C.J.
2 As the sole issue on appeal, mother contends that the
procedures that led the El Paso County Department of Human
Services (Department) to recommend against kinship placement
violated her rights to due process and assistance of counsel.
As a result, she asserts, the trial court improperly
determined there was no less drastic alternative to
termination of her parental rights.
3 Because we conclude that the Department did not violate
mother's right to due process or her right to counsel, we
4 The Department filed a petition in dependency and neglect
in November 2014 after the child was born addicted to
methadone and opiates. The hospital released the child when
she was two months old. Due to mother's continued
substance abuse, the Department placed the child in foster
care a month later.
5 A paternal aunt contacted the Department about six months
later. She was interested in caring for the child but she was
concerned that the placement might be disrupted. Accordingly,
she asked the Department to establish the child's
paternity by a genetic test so she could know whether the
child was her blood relative before moving forward.
6 The Department complied with the aunt's request and
found that the child was her blood relative. However, this
process took nine months because the Department had been
unable to locate the child's father without mother's
cooperation, the aunt's test was inconclusive, and the
child's grandparents were slow to participate in genetic
testing. Thus, the aunt did not begin visits with the child
until the child was eighteen months old.
7 Meanwhile, the Department conducted a home study to
evaluate the aunt as a placement option for the child. The
caseworker's interview with the aunt raised concerns that
prompted the caseworker to request administrative review by
the Department. Upon review, the Department decided not to
recommend placement with the aunt.
8 The Department moved to terminate mother's parental
rights in June 2016. At the same time, the Department asked
the court to reduce visitation with the aunt.
9 Mother challenged the Department's recommendations. She
filed a motion asking the court to increase visitation and to
consider the aunt as a permanent placement option for the
10 The court held a hearing on mother's motion. Citing
the child's emotional needs, her bond with her foster
parents, and her lack of attachment with the aunt, the trial
court denied mother's ...