Willamette Law Online

Oregon Court of Appeals


Dept. Human Services v. B.L.J.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 12-07-2011
Case #: A148452
Duncan, J. for the Court; Haselton, P.J.; & Armstrong, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/A148452.pdf

Family Law: To justify juvenile court jurisdiction over a child the Department of Human Services must prove that, under the totality of the circumstances, there exists a reasonable likelihood of harm to the child’s welfare. Additionally, there is no legal requirement that parents be able to care for their children independently of another.

Mother appealed the juvenile courts decision to take jurisdiction over her two children. The court found that mother had cognitive delays, which impaired her ability to care for her children. Mother contended that the juvenile courts decision was not supported by sufficient evidence because there was another adult living with her who could help her care for her children. The Court of Appeals held that there was no legal requirement that a parent be able to care for her children independently of another. Moreover, Department of Human Services (DHS) did not meet its burden that under the totality of the circumstances a reasonable likelihood of harm to the child’s welfare existed. In this case, the Court found that DHS failed to meet this burden and as such, the juvenile courts jurisdiction was not justified. Reversed.