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In re Interest of A.S.L. - Efforts To Reunite Families

Family huggingThe law is comprised of both statute and caselaw. Statute sets forth the basic law as created by the legislature. However, statutes are general in nature and it is not always clear how they apply to a specific set of facts. Appellate courts interpret the statutes as they apply to a specific set of facts where a party does not agree with a trial court decision and alleges an error of fact or law We can learn a great deal about the law by studying appellate decisions.

In In Interest of A.S.L., 2022 COA 146, a court adjudicated a child as dependent and neglected. The foster parents intervened and the court allocated parental responsibilities to the foster parents. C.R.S. § 19-3-100.5(1), requires reasonable efforts to reunify families in dependency and neglect proceedings. Parents are often required to engage in certain activities to rehabilitate in order to regain parenting time. The court then assesses whether the parent has successfully made progress.

Here The children had been placed in the custody of the Department of Human Services after Mother had a major overdose of drugs. Mother admitted to the overdose and the older child was placed in foster care. Mother did not regularly attended her supervised parenting time. The child expressed that he did not want to visit with Mother. Mother appealed contending that reasonable efforts to reunite the family had not occurred.

The Court of Appeals (COA) affirmed the trial court decision finding that though the trial court did not make express findings about reasonable efforts, the record supported that efforts to reunite the family had been reasonable. The Court relied on C.R.S. §19-1-103(114), 2022 which provides that "the exercise of diligence and care . . . for children and youth who are in foster care or out-of-home placement or are at imminent risk of foster care or out-of-home placement.” The Court determined that it was in the child's best interests for the foster parent to assume parental responsibilities. The COA also determined that the lack of specific findings did not warrant reversal.

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