State of Utah, in the interest of S.V. and T.V.Annotate this Case
State of Utah, in the interest
of S.V. and T.V.,
persons under eighteen years of age.
State of Utah,
(Not For Official Publication)
Case No. 20000239-CA
F I L E D
March 8, 2001 2001 UT App 73 -----
First District Juvenile,
Brigham City Department
The Honorable Larry E. Jones
Maurice Richards and Jerald N. Engstrom, Ogden, for Appellant
Mark L. Shurtleff and John Peterson, Salt Lake City, for Appellee
Martha Pierce, Salt Lake City, Guardian Ad Litem -----
Before Judges Greenwood, Billings, and Orme.
M.K., the natural mother of S.V. and T.V., appeals the order terminating her parental rights. M.K.'s primary contention is that she was not provided with appropriate reunification services. We reject this argument for several reasons.
First, reunification services "are a gratuity provided by the Legislature, and appellants thus have no constitutional right to receive these services." In re N.R., 967 P.2d 951, 955-56 (Utah Ct. App. 1998). It was not necessary that M.K. be provided with reunification services, particularly in light of the fact that her parental rights were terminated due to her unfitness, incompetence, and lack of parental adjustment. See Utah Code Ann. § 78-3a-407(3), (5) (1996). As we have said, "a juvenile court has the statutory authority to order the termination of a parent's rights based on findings of abandonment, neglect, unfitness, and token efforts, regardless of whether the State provided any services, reasonable or not." In re M.E.C., 942 P.2d 955, 960 (Utah Ct. App. 1997).
Second, appropriate reunification services, which took into account M.K.'s limitations, were provided. M.K.'s therapists were made aware of her limitations and parenting classes were provided through AVATAR, which is geared toward persons with needs like M.K. Moreover, because M.K. was able to avail herself of many of the services provided, they do not appear to have been beyond her reach. M.K. substantially complied with her first treatment plan and completed parenting classes. In spite of the services she was provided and the extra time she was given, M.K. was not able to implement what she had learned.
Third, the evidence supports the trial court's decision to terminate M.K.'s parental rights. Regardless of the type of reunification services provided, M.K. had a pattern of making poor choices, placing her children at risk, and failing to protect them from abuse.
Fourth, M.K. does not challenge the findings that support the trial court's decision to terminate her parental rights. M.K.'s children were abused on several occasions by men with whom M.K. associated, and she failed to protect the children. Even when T.V. was returned to M.K. on a trial placement, M.K. continued to make poor decisions. She was not able to properly parent or to protect her children. M.K.'s choices put and/or kept her children in harm's way.
The order of termination
Pamela T. Greenwood,
Judith M. Billings, Judge
Gregory K. Orme, Judge