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Department of Human Services v. L.B.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 10-19-2011
Case #: A147703
Nakamoto, J. for the Court; Wollheim, J.; & Schuman, P.J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/A147703.pdf

Family Law: A court must carefully evaluate DHS’s decision to change a permanency plan for a child in order to ensure that the decision is one that is most likely to lead to a positive outcome for the child.

Mother appealed the juvenile court’s judgment that changed the permanency plan for her children. She argued that the court erred in its judgment because it did not include a finding as to whether there was a compelling reason for determining that filing a petition to terminate parental rights would not be in the best interest of the child or ward as required by ORS 419.476(5). The Compelling Reasons section of the “check the box” forms of judgment did not make clear that the box next to “DHS has failed to demonstrate compelling reasons” is an alternative to the box stating “DHS has demonstrated compelling reasons.” None of the boxes in the Compelling Reasons sectionwere checked in the judgment. ORS 419B.476 expresses the legislature’s intent that a juvenile court must carefully evaluate DHS’s decision to change a permanency plan for a child in order to ensure that the decision is one that is most likely to lead to a positive outcome for the child. The Court of Appeals held that the juvenile court failed to satisfy the statutory requirements. Reversed and remanded.