L.L. v. Colorado

10 P.3d 1271 (2000)

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L.L. v. Colorado

Colorado Supreme Court
10 P.3d 1271 (2000)

  • Written by Tammy Boggs, JD

Facts

L.L. (defendant) had two minor children, R.W. and T.W. In 1994, L.L. was convicted of a drug-related offense and was briefly incarcerated. The children’s father was also incarcerated. The state department of human services (the department) (plaintiff) placed the children in the temporary custody of the maternal grandmother. When L.L. was released from prison, L.L. and the grandmother shared temporary custody of the children. Shortly thereafter, the department initiated a dependency proceeding, alleging neglect. The trial court placed the children in the department’s custody and later adjudicated the children to be dependent and neglected. Placement with the grandmother was unsuccessful, and by 1996, the children were placed with foster parents. In 1997, the court determined there was no substantial probability that the children could be returned to L.L.’s care. The department sought an order of permanent guardianship for the children, rather than termination of the parent-child relationship. In 1998, following a hearing on the matter, the court found under a preponderance-of-the-evidence standard that it was in the children’s best interests to be placed in the permanent guardianship of the foster parents. The court ordered L.L. and the grandmother to have no contact with the children, retained ongoing jurisdiction over the matter, and scheduled a review hearing in three months’ time. L.L. maintained certain parental rights, including the right to petition the court for a change in custody and visitation and the right to approve or deny any proposed adoption. L.L. appealed, challenging the constitutionality of the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard in a proceeding that nearly terminated her parental rights. The court of appeals affirmed, and the Colorado Supreme Court granted review.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rice, J.)

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