Dept. of Human Services v. W. A. C.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Family Law
  • Date Filed: 06-04-2014
  • Case #: A154075
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Nakamoto, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; & Egan, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

To determine whether jurisdiction over a minor is proper, the inquiry is based on “whether, under the totality of circumstance, there is a reasonable likelihood of harm to the welfare of the child.”

Father in this juvenile dependency appeal challenges a March, 2013, judgment asserting jurisdiction over his two children before he could have had a hearing to challenge the allegations in the petition, and an order of the juvenile court denying his motion to set aside an earlier, October 2012, judgment in which the court had asserted jurisdiction over Father’s children based on Mother’s unproved allegations of domestic violence. DHS became involved with the family after receiving information that a domestic violence incident between the parents had occurred. To determine whether jurisdiction is proper, the inquiry is based on “whether, under the totality of circumstance, there is a reasonable likelihood of harm to the welfare of the child.” The court found that, at the time of the hearing, the children were not at risk of being exposed to Mother’s poor mental health, and if the family was reunited there was no current risk of serious harm. The state must prove that the harm is, in fact, present; DHS failed to demonstrate current risk of serious emotional or physical harm to the children. Therefore, the juvenile court abused its discretion in denying father’s motion to set aside the October, 2012, judgment. The Court agrees with Father that the evidence was legally insufficient to support jurisdiction over his children. Reversed and remanded.

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