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People in the Interest of E.B.

2022 COA 120. No. 21CA1055. Dependency and Neglect—Termination of the Parent-Child Legal Relationship—Placement with Family Members—Final Appealable Order.

October 13, 2022

The Jefferson County Division of Children, Youth and Families (Division) initiated a dependency and neglect proceeding for child E.B. The juvenile court granted temporary custody of E.B. to the Division, and the Division placed the child in grandparents’ care. Two months later, the Division moved the child to foster care because grandparents were struggling to care for him. Grandparents then requested permanent custody of E.B. The juvenile court later terminated mother’s and father’s parental rights. It then determined that grandparents had timely requested guardianship and custody of E.B., but following a contested hearing, it denied the request. Grandparents appealed, and E.B.’s guardian ad litem (GAL) moved to dismiss the appeal for lack of a final order. A Court of Appeals motions division denied the motion. While grandparents’ appeal was pending, a different division reversed the termination judgment against father and remanded the case for further proceedings, and the Colorado Supreme Court granted certiorari review.

On appeal, the GAL requested reconsideration of the motions division’s order determining that the appeal should proceed. A dependency and neglect order must be final for appeal, and an order is final when the juvenile court has resolved all issues in the dependency and neglect proceeding. A denial of a relative’s request for guardianship and custody under CRS § 19-3-605 does not resolve all issues because the juvenile court must continue to review the child’s placement and permanency plan until the case is closed. Here, notwithstanding the uncertain status of the order terminating father’s parental rights, the juvenile court will have to take further action concerning E.B. until the case ends either because E.B. attains age 18.5 or the court otherwise terminates its jurisdiction. Accordingly, the order denying grandparents’ request for permanent custody is not final and appealable.

The judgment was reversed and the case was remanded to reinstate the amended complaint and to conduct further proceedings.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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