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NEW MEXICO: State ex rel. Children v. Laura, J.
09.26.2012 | Child Protection / Disposition
The Court of Appeals of New Mexico affirmed the district court’s order terminating appellant-mother’s parental rights, but remanded the case for further review after finding that appellee-department failed to consider appellant-Colin, mother’s cousin, as an appropriate relative placement for the child. The appellate court disagreed with appellant-mother’s argument that termination was improper, holding that there was clear and convincing evidence to support the termination of appellant-mother’s rights, finding appellee made reasonable efforts to accommodate her cognitive and emotional limitations through referral to services tailored to meet her needs, and that appellant-mother was afforded due process during the termination proceedings. Appellant-Colin argued that the district court erred by changing the child’s permanency plan from reunification to adoption without making reasonable efforts to identify and locate relatives as potential placements and that without the court first making the requisite finding that reasonable efforts with respect to placement of the child with him, progressing to the stage of termination of parental rights was improper. The appellate court first held that Colin had standing to appeal the termination order based on his party status as an intervenor in the underlying action. Next, the appellate court noted that under N.M.S.A § 32A-4-25.1, appellee-department “has a duty to make reasonable efforts to identify, locate, and conduct home studies on willing and appropriate relatives who could potentially serve as placement for a child.” Here, appellee-department knew about Colin’s interest in placement of the child and his certification as a foster parent for at least 3 months prior to changing the permanency plan to adoption, but did not consider placing the child with him. Therefore, the appellate court remanded the case to the district court in order for appellee-department to complete a home study on Colin and hold a hearing to determine the child’s best interests.
Cite: No. 31,324; 2012 N.M. App. LEXIS 105 (N.M. Ct. App. Sept. 26, 2012)
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