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People ex rel. B.C

Court of Appeals of Colorado, First Division

March 22, 2018

The People of the State of Colorado, Petitioner-Appellee, In the Interest of B.C., a Child, and Concerning L.T., Respondent-Appellant.

          Pueblo County District Court No. 16JV42 Honorable Deborah R. Eyler, Judge

         Opinion Modified and Petition for Rehearing DENIED.

          Cynthia Mitchell, County Attorney, David A. Roth, Special Assistant County Attorney, Pueblo, Colorado, for Petitioner-Appellee

          Anna N. H. Ulrich, Guardian Ad Litem Law Office of Roy Wallis, Roy Wallis, Mesa, Arizona, for Respondent-Appellant

          OPINION

          RICHMAN, JUDGE

         ¶ 1 L.T. (mother) appeals the judgment terminating the parent-child legal relationship with her child, B.C.

         ¶ 2 Mother contends that the trial court erred by not conducting a dispositional hearing or adopting a formal treatment plan that was found to be appropriate. The Pueblo County Department of Social Services (the Department) responds that the court substantially complied with the procedural requirements of sections 19-3-507 and -508(1)(d)(II), C.R.S. 2017. The Department also argues that mother waived her objections by not raising them in the trial court, and that she was not prejudiced by any failure to hold a dispositional hearing. Because we agree with mother, we reverse the judgment and remand for further proceedings.

         I. Background

         ¶ 3 The proceedings in this case began when the child and mother tested positive for methamphetamine after the child was born.

         ¶ 4 The Department filed a petition in dependency and neglect, alleging that there were concerns that mother had continued to use methamphetamine and was not bonding with the child.

         ¶ 5 After a Family Voice Conference, mother stipulated to an adjudication, admitting that the child's environment was injurious to his welfare. She also stipulated to a preliminary treatment plan that required her to (1) sign releases of information; (2) participate in sobriety monitoring; (3) complete substance abuse and mental health evaluations and follow recommended treatment; (4) attend parenting classes and the child's doctor appointments; and (5) attend visitation.

         ¶ 6 Although no dispositional hearing was held, on February 23, 2016, the Department filed a special report with the trial court containing an attached treatment plan that had the same requirements. The cover page indicates that the Department sent mother's counsel a copy of the formal treatment plan.

         ¶ 7 By order dated February 29, 2016, based on mother's stipulation, the trial court adjudicated the child dependent and neglected. The court also ordered the Department to "submit a formal treatment plan to the Court within twenty (20) days from the date of the family voice conference." The order specified that "if no objections are made to said formal treatment plan, the formal treatment plan shall be adopted and made an order of the Court." The order did not include a finding that the treatment plan was "appropriate."

         ¶ 8 Mother did not object to the preliminary treatment plan from the Family Voice ...


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