State of Utah, in the interest of M.R., A.R.C., and N.R., persons under eighteen years of age. F.C., Appellant,
State of Utah, Appellee.
District Juvenile Court, Silver Summit Department The
Honorable Elizabeth M. Knight No. 1099635
Kelley, Attorney for Appellant
D. Reyes, Carol L.C. Verdoia, and John M. Peterson, Attorneys
Pierce, Guardian ad Litem
Judges David N. Mortensen, Jill M. Pohlman, and Diana Hagen.
PER CURIAM OPINION
F.C. (Mother) appeals the termination of her parental rights.
Mother argues that there was insufficient evidence to support
the juvenile court's determination that the Division of
Child and Family Services (DCFS) made reasonable efforts to
provide adequate reunification services.
"[I]n order to overturn the juvenile court's
decision [to terminate a person's parental rights, ]
'the result must be against the clear weight of the
evidence or leave the appellate court with a firm and
definite conviction that a mistake has been made.'"
In re B.R., 2007 UT 82, ¶ 12, 171 P.3d 435
(citation omitted). We "review the juvenile court's
factual findings based upon the clearly erroneous
standard." In re E.R., 2001 UT App 66, ¶
11, 21 P.2d 680. A finding of fact is clearly erroneous only
when, in light of the evidence supporting the finding, it is
against the clear weight of the evidence. See id. In
regard to claims concerning the adequacy of reunification
services, the juvenile court "has broad discretion in
determining whether DCFS had made reasonable efforts at
reunification." In re A.C., 2004 UT App 255,
¶ 12, 97 P.3d 706. The reason for this discretion is
that "[t]he factual situations that give rise to the
termination of parental rights vary greatly; thus, the
number, quality, and array of services that should be
provided for reunification also vary greatly."
Id. ¶ 11.
Additionally, the trial court is in the best position to
evaluate the credibility and competence of those who testify
regarding the services that were provided, the parent's
level of participation in such services, whether the services
were properly tailored to remedy the specific problems that
led to removal of the child, and whether the parent
successfully accessed and then utilized such services to
remedy those problems. Consequently, determining whether or
not DCFS has provided "reasonable services" to
parents requires trial judges to observe "'facts [
]' . . . relevant to the application of the law that
cannot be adequately reflected in the record available to
Id. ¶ 12 (citations omitted) (alteration and
omission in original).
Mother's primary argument is that she was denied
reasonable accommodations under the Americans with
Disabilities Act (the ADA). See 42 U.S.C. §
12132 (2012). However, Mother has failed to demonstrate that
she preserved such a claim by requesting an accommodation.
"[I]n order to preserve an issue for appeal, the issue
must be presented to the trial court in such a way that the
trial court has an opportunity to rule on that issue."
438 Main St. v. Easy Heat, Inc., 2004 UT 72, ¶
51, 99 P.3d 801 (citation and internal quotation marks
omitted); see also In re K.C., 2015 UT 92, ¶
29, 362 P.2d 1248 (indicating that the juvenile court had no
obligation to examine whether reasonable accommodations were
made under the ADA until the parent actually
"invoked" the ADA). Mother fails to demonstrate
that she ever indicated to the juvenile court that she
believed that the services offered to her did not adequately
account for her disability, or that she otherwise objected to
the services she was receiving. Accordingly, because Mother
did not preserve the issue, and has not otherwise argued that
an exception to the preservation rule applies in this case,
we do not address the issue on appeal.
In regard to her broader argument, Mother fails to
demonstrate that the juvenile court abused its discretion in
finding that DCFS made reasonable efforts at
reunification. The evidence in the record supports the
juvenile court's decision. For example, DCFS arranged for
numerous evaluations to assist it in determining the services
Mother needed, including three separate psychological
evaluations,  drug tests, therapy, and approximately
seventy sessions of weekly Individualized Parent Child
Interactive Therapy with the use of an interpreter. The
record demonstrates that the services Mother received were
extensive and meant to address Mother's parenting
deficiencies from several different directions. Mother fails
to adequately explain how the extensive services she received
were unreasonable. Further, Mother fails to identify any
objections she made to the juvenile court concerning the
services she was receiving or any requests for additional
services that she believed would have assisted her in
regaining custody of her children. Accordingly, because
evidence in the record supports the juvenile court's
determination, and because of Mother's failure to
identify any reasonable services that DCFS failed to offer
her, she has failed to demonstrate that the juvenile court
abused its discretion in finding that DCFS provided
reasonable services to Mother.