On October 12, 2022, a division of the Colorado Court of Appeals held that an order denying a relative’s request for guardianship and custody of a child is not a final and appealable order. Here, the juvenile court had denied the grandparent’s request for guardianship and legal custody of the child. Because the division determined that the juvenile court’s order was not a final appealable order, the division dismissed the appeal without addressing the merits.
Related to the holding of this case, Colorado allows parents, grandparents, relatives and foster parents who: 1) have had the child in their care for more than three months; and 2) who have information or knowledge concerning the care and protection of the child have an automatic right to intervene in a dependency and neglect case. C.R.S. 19-3-507(5)(a); C.R.C.P. 24(a). Non-parents who do not meet these criteria do not have an automatic right to intervene in a dependency and neglect case. Intervention of such parties will be governed by C.R.C.P. 24(b)(2) regarding permissive intervention. Regardless, simply because a party has been granted intervenor status in the trial court does not necessarily mean they have the right to appeal orders affecting them. As this case demonstrates, the order being appealed must be a final, appealable order pursuant to C.A.R. 3.4 and C.R.S. 19-1-109(2)(b). Furthermore, even if a non-parent is allowed to intervene in the trial court D&N case, they may not have the right to appeal an adverse order, even if it is a final, appealable order. See People in Interest of C.W.B. Jr., 410 P.3d 438, 443 (Colo. 2018).
Therefore, before agreeing to a non-parent’s intervention in a D&N, practitioners should be sure to assess whether the non-parent has a statutory right to intervene or whether their intervention is permissive. Simply because an individual is seeking placement, or potentially seeking placement of the child, this position does not automatically grant them a right to intervene in a D&N. Likewise, even if a non-parent is allowed to intervene in the trial court case, they may not be permitted to appeal an adverse decision if they lack standing to appeal or if the decision is not a final, appealable order.