Dept. of Human Services v. S. M. H.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Family Law
  • Date Filed: 01-05-2017
  • Case #: A162054
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Garrett, J. for the Court; Duncan, P.J.; & DeVore, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under ORS 419B417(2)(a) the juvenile court is authorized to change the plan from reunification only if DHS proves that (1) it made reasonable efforts to make it possible for the child to be reunified with his or her parent and (2) notwithstanding those efforts, the parent’s progress was insufficient to make reunification possible.

The parents appealed the judgment in a consolidated juvenile dependency case changing the permanency plans for three children from reunification to guardianship. They assigned error to the juvenile court’s finding that the DHS made reasonable efforts to make reunification possible as required by ORS 419B.476(2)(a). Regarding the mother, the record lacked sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s conclusion that DHS made reasonable efforts within the meaning of ORS 419B417(2)(a). Under ORS 419B417(2)(a) the juvenile court is authorized to change the plan from reunification only if DHS proves that (1) it made reasonable efforts to make it possible for the child to be reunified with his or her parent and (2) notwithstanding those efforts, the parent’s progress was insufficient to make reunification possible. DHS is required to prove both parts by a preponderance of evidence. Because DHS took so few meaningful steps to become aware of the mother’s participation in services while incarcerated, the record was not sufficient to support the trial court’s determination that DHS made reasonable efforts over the life of the case. Reversed and remanded.

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