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People ex rel. N.G.G.

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Fifth Division

January 9, 2019

The People of the State of Colorado, Appellee,
v.
In the Interest of N.G.G., A.R.G., and S.D.G., Children, and Concerning J.G., V. M., Appellants, and H.B., Appellee.

          Mesa County District Court No. 16JV217 Honorable Valerie J. Robison, Judge

          J. Patrick Coleman, County Attorney, Jeremy Savage, Chief Deputy County Attorney, Katherine A. Barnes, Assistant County Attorney, Grand Junction, Colorado, for Appellee

          Melinda Guthrie, Guardian Ad Litem Susan C. Baker, Office of Respondent Parents' Counsel, El Prado, New Mexico, for Appellant J.G.

          Barbara A. Snow, Longmont, Colorado, for Appellant V.M. Gregory J. Mueller, Grand Junction, Colorado, for Appellant H.B.

          OPINION

          ROMÁN JUDGE

         ¶ 1 In this dependency and neglect proceeding, V.M. (mother) and J.G. (father) appeal the juvenile court's judgment allocating parental responsibilities for their children, N.G.G., A.R.G. and S.D.G.

         ¶ 2 Where a juvenile court adjudicates a child dependent and neglected, thereby removing the legal presumption that a parent is acting or will act in the child's best interests, is the presumption restored where the court later finds that the parent has successfully complied with a treatment plan and is able to safely parent the child? We conclude that the answer is "yes." We also conclude that an order permitting a parent to relocate with a child without notifying the other parent, if the other parent is incarcerated, violates the governing statute. For these reasons, we reverse the judgment and remand the case for further proceedings.

         I. Dependency and Neglect Case

         ¶ 3 In July 2016, the Mesa County Department of Human Services (Department) initiated a dependency and neglect case based on concerns that the paternal grandmother, H.B., who was then the children's primary legal custodian, had provided inadequate care. The juvenile court placed the children, then ages six, five, and three, in mother's custody under the protective supervision of the Department.

         ¶ 4 Mother and father admitted that the children were dependent and neglected through no fault of the parents.

         ¶ 5 The court also granted the grandmother's request to be made a respondent and contest the allegations in the petition. However, a jury later determined that the grandmother had mistreated or abused the children or allowed another to do so; that they lacked proper parental care because of the grandmother's acts or omissions; that their environment was injurious to their welfare based on the grandmother's acts or failure to act; and that they were without proper care or not domiciled with a parent through no fault of the grandmother.

         ¶ 6 Based on that verdict, the court adjudicated the children dependent and neglected based upon the grandmother's care. It also adopted a treatment plan for the parents and the grandmother.

         ¶ 7 The Department filed motions seeking a permanent allocation of parental responsibilities (APR) for the children to mother, and the juvenile court held a hearing on the Department's request. After considering the evidence and the parties' written arguments, the juvenile court determined that mother had successfully complied with her treatment plan and issued a permanent APR judgment granting mother sole decision-making authority for the children and primary parenting time. The court also

• granted father supervised parenting time;
• awarded the grandmother supervised visitation and provided for a possible transition to unsupervised visitation;
• required mother to notify the grandmother of the children's school-organized extracurricular activities;
• required mother and the grandmother to enroll in and complete a high-conflict parenting class; and
• granted mother permission to relocate with the children under certain circumstances.

         ¶ 8 The juvenile court certified the APR judgment into the parties' ...


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