State v. A. D. G.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Juvenile Law
  • Date Filed: 01-02-2014
  • Case #: A154216
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Nakamoto, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; and De Muniz, S.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under ORS 419B.923(7), the juvenile court may enter default judgment, terminating an individual's parental rights, only when that person is absent from the hearing or trial on termination petition.

Mother appealed the lower court’s denial of her motion to set aside its default judgment terminating her parental rights to her two children. DHS initiated termination proceedings of Mother’s two children, N and G, in two separate proceedings. N’s proceeding was scheduled for July 24, 2012. Mother failed to appear and a default judgment was entered against her. G’s proceeding was set for August 28, 2012. Mother appeared for this proceeding and a termination proceeding was set for mid December. However, in the meantime, the court set a hearing for October 23, to check on Mother’s progress. Mother failed to appear and the court entered default against Mother. Thereafter the court set the termination of parental rights prima facie hearing for both G and N on December 18, 2012. Mother appeared at the termination hearing, but because default had already been entered against her she was asked to sit in the gallery during the proceeding. The court entered judgment terminating Mother’s parental rights to both children. Mother motioned to set the default judgment aside. The court held that in each case mother was personally served, failed to appear and an order of default was properly entered against her. Mother appealed. On appeal Mother argued that, under ORS 419B.923(1) the court had authority to set aside the default judgment. Here, Mother appeared at the December termination proceeding and attempted to participate. The Court held that, under ORS 419B.923(7), the court may enter a default judgment, terminating an individual's parental rights, only if that parent is absent from the proceeding. Furthermore, under ORS 419B.923(1), the juvenile court had authority to set aside a default judgment, and committed legal error by entering default judgment against Mother when she attempted to participate in the proceedings. Reversed and remanded.

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