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UTAH: B.W.H. v. State (State ex rel. A.W.)
04.19.2012 | Adoption / Procedure
The Court of Appeals of Utah affirmed the juvenile court’s order dismissing appellant-foster parents’ adoption petition, holding that there was no need for the lower court to consider the adoption petition because appellee-adoptive parent’s competing petition was the more compliant with Utah law. Here, appellant-foster parents petitioned to adopt A.W. after she was removed from their home based upon allegations of sexual abuse perpetrated by the foster father, but the adoption petition did not conform to statutory notice requirements. A few months later, A.W.’s new foster parent (appellee-adoptive parent) also filed a petition to adopt, which was granted. Appellant-foster parent’s petition was subsequently dismissed. First, the court of appeals stated that under In re Adoption of A.B., 1999 UT App. 315, when two competing adoption petitions are filed, Utah Rules of Civil Procedure 42 permits the court to order a joint hearing to determine which petition is the primary matter to be decided. If that petition is granted, there is no need to consider the second petition. In deciding which petition is the primary matter, the court “may examine the comparative merits of the competing petition for adoption or may give procedural preference to the petition that is most compliant with the state’s adoption statute.” Here, the appellate court found that the juvenile court did not err when it declined to consolidate the hearings after determining that appellee-adoptive parent’s petition was more compliant with the Utah adoption statute and, therefore, was the primary matter. In addition, the court found that the order requiring appellants to pay for the GAL fees was appropriate as their adoption petition was frivolous and brought in bad faith; because the child had been removed from appellants’ home due to allegations of sexual abuse in the home, it was clear that DCFS would not consent to appellants’ adoption of A.W.
Cite: Case No. 20101010-CA; 2010 UT App. 109; 2012 Utah App. LEXIS 110 (UT. Ct. App. April 12, 2012)
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