People in Interest of C.N., 2018 COA 165

This decision concerns a grandmother’s appeal of a juvenile court order placing a child permanently with her foster parents and terminating the grandmother’s visits.

The division of the Court of Appeals makes a number of holdings regarding grandmother’s standing and rights. First, the division holds that grandmother did not have standing to assert issues regarding the mother or the child, noting the GAL’s role to advocate for the best interests of the child and citing a line of cases establishing that parties lack standing in D&N appeals to assert the rights of other parties. Second, grandmother does not have a constitutionally protected interest in the care or custody of the child, as her visitation rights were derived from statute, she did not have an existing custodial relationship, and she waited a year and a half and after termination of parental rights to file a motion to intervene. The division also rejects grandmother’s claim of entitlement to notice of the termination hearing, reasoning that the relevant statutes require due diligence to notify relatives of the removal of a child from a parents’ care but do not require notice of the court hearings concerning the removal. Because grandmother was not a placement provider, Colorado Revised Statute 19-3-502(7) did not require notice; moreover, Colorado Revised Statute 19-3-605(1) specifically states it shall not be construed to require notice to relatives of a pending termination of parental rights. Additionally, the division upholds the juvenile court’s order terminating visits between the grandmother and the child, holding that the statutory definition of grandparent governing grandparent visitation specifically excludes as grandparent the parent of a father or mother whose rights have been terminated.

The Division also holds that the juvenile court did not err in disallowing grandmother’s petition for adoption in the D&N proceeding. Finally, the division rejects grandmother’s argument that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the proceeding due to the child’s location, reasoning that the juvenile court had subject matter jurisdiction because the child was allegedly dependent or neglected and that the venue analysis was the proper analysis to determine grandmother’s locational claim. Venue was proper, as the mother of the child was located and temporarily residing in Jefferson County at the time of the filing of the case.

November 15, 2018

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