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People ex rel. I.J.O.

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Seventh Division

October 3, 2019

The People of the State of Colorado, Petitioner-Appellee, In the Interest of I.J.O., a Child, and Concerning M.S.O., Respondent-Appellant.

          Adams County District Court No. 17JV408 Honorable Katherine R. Delgado, Judge

          Heidi M. Miller, County Attorney, Julie Thomerson, Assistant County Attorney, Westminster, Colorado, for Petitioner-Appellee

          Niceta Bradburn, Guardian Ad Litem James West, Office of Respondent Parents' Counsel, Longmont, Colorado, for Respondent-Appellant

          OPINION

          TOW J. JUDGE

         ¶ 1 M.S.O. (mother) appeals the juvenile court's judgment terminating the parent-child legal relationship between her and I.J.O. (the child). Mother - who upon the commencement of and throughout the juvenile court proceedings was the child's noncustodial natural parent and lived out of state - frames the issue as whether the court erred by applying the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children (ICPC) to the potential placement of the child with mother. But the substance of her argument is that the juvenile court erred by permitting the Adams County Human Services Department to absolve itself of the obligation to exercise reasonable efforts to rehabilitate mother and to reunify the family solely because mother failed the ICPC home visit.

         ¶ 2 The division, on its own motion, having considered the parties' briefs, remands the case to the juvenile court for the limited purpose of allowing the court to clarify its findings supporting termination of mother's parental rights.

         I. Background

         ¶ 3 In December 2017, the Department filed a petition in dependency and neglect regarding the eight-year-old child. The Department alleged that the child's father was unstable and that he was planning to take the child back to Ohio to live with mother. The Department also alleged that "[t]his family has [an] extensive child welfare history in Ohio including a removal from [both mother and father]."

         ¶ 4 The juvenile court adjudicated the child dependent and neglected. The court adopted a treatment plan for mother, requiring that she maintain contact with the Department and provide necessary releases, engage in initial treatment assessment and planning, abide by any resulting treatment plan, submit a hair follicle test to determine whether she had used controlled substances, and cooperate with an ICPC home study. The plan also called for mother to have regular telephone contact with the child, although the juvenile court later suspended these calls because they were traumatic and dysregulating for the child.[1]

         ¶ 5 In July 2018, the Department moved to terminate mother's parental rights. In January 2019, following a hearing, the juvenile court granted the Department's motion, terminating mother's parental rights.[2]

         II. Standard of Review

         ¶ 6 We review de novo issues of law, including whether the juvenile court applied the correct legal standard. People in Interest of A.J.L., 243 P.3d 244, 249 (Colo. 2010). We review the juvenile court's factual findings for clear error. Id. The credibility of the witnesses; the sufficiency, probative effect, and weight of the evidence; and the inferences and conclusions to be drawn from it are within the court's discretion. People in Interest of C.A.K., 652 P.2d 603, 613 (Colo. 1982). Thus, we will not disturb the court's findings and conclusions if they have record support. Id.

         III. Applicable Law

         A. The ...


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