This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Welfare of the Children of:
B.K., M.C., J.N. and D.S., Parents.
Filed September 18, 2007
Carlton County District Court
File Nos. 09-JV-05-891, 09-JV-05-889, 09-JV-05-3591
Thomas H. Pertler, Carton County Attorney, Dennis Genereau, Jr., Assistant County Attorney, 202 Courthouse, P.O. Box 300, Carlton, MN 55718 (for respondent Carlton County Human Services)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge; Klaphake, Judge; and Muehlberg, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
On appeal after remand, appellant-mother argues that termination of her parental rights should be reversed because the district court failed to abide by the terms of this court’s remand that required findings explaining why termination was in the children’s best interests. Because the district court’s new findings adequately address the children’s best interests and are supported by clear-and-convincing evidence, we affirm.
district court terminated mother’s parental rights under Minn. Stat.
§ 260C.301, subd. 1(b)(2), (4), (5), (8) (2004). Mother appealed, challenging the district
court’s findings on two of the four statutory grounds for termination and also
arguing that neither the record nor the district court’s findings addressed
whether termination is in the children’s best interests. This court rejected mother’s challenge to the
statutory grounds for termination but concluded that the district court failed
to adequately address the issue of whether termination is in each child’s best
interests and remanded for further findings on the issue. In re
Welfare of the Children of B.K., No. A06-700, 2006 WL 3490970, at *2-3 (
This court explained:
The district court’s only reference to the children’s best interests is a finding that the GAL, who was recommending termination of parental rights, “was diligent in her efforts to appri[s]e the district court of the children’s best interests throughout this case.” Although there is ample evidence in the record to support a finding of fact or conclusion of law that it would not be in the children’s best interests to be returned to mother’s care, there is no evidence in the record addressing whether termination of mother’s parental rights is in the best interest of each child, and the district court failed to address the issue of whether termination of parental rights is in each child’s best interest.
Mother points to evidence in the record that she was consistent in exercising her supervised visitation, that the children are well bonded to her and were always excited to visit her, and that mother and the children have very good interactions. The GAL testified that ten-year old C.K. has expressed a preference to live with his mother, and there was testimony that C.K. was sad when he had to leave his mother after visitation.
On remand, the district court found that long-term foster care or transfer of custody to a relative was not in any of the children’s best interests. The court found that because all three children were under age 12, they were not eligible for long-term foster care under Minn. Stat. § 260C.201, subd. 11(d)(3)(ii)(A) (2006). The court found that no relatives were available to take custody of C.K. due to his behavior problems and that it was in his best interests that mother’s parental rights be terminated, so he could be made available for adoption. The court found that the only relatives available to take custody of J.K. and A.K. were Connie and Devon Simpson, who had indicated a willingness to adopt them, and that it would be in their best interests to continue in that placement for adoption.
Mother appeals, arguing that the district court erred in determining the children’s best interests without reopening the record for additional evidence and in adopting verbatim the county’s proposed best-interests findings.
D E C I S I O N
from an order terminating parental rights “appellate courts are limited to
determining whether the findings address the statutory criteria, whether those
findings are supported by substantial evidence, and whether they are clearly
erroneous.” In re Welfare of D.D.G., 558 N.W.2d 481, 484 (
this court’s statement that “there is no evidence in the record addressing
whether termination of mother’s parental rights is in the best interest of each
child,” mother argues that the district court erred in failing to reopen the
record for additional evidence. We
disagree. The quoted statement was
included in the opinion as part of a discussion on evidence cited by mother and
evidence supporting the district court’s findings. This court then went on to explain that
“[d]etermination of a child’s ‘best interests’ . . . is generally not susceptible
to an appellate court’s global review of a record.” In re
Welfare of the Children of B.K., No. A06-700, 2006 WL 3490970, at *3 (
factors guide the district court’s determination of a child’s best interests:
“(1) the child’s interest in preserving the parent-child relationship; (2) the
parent’s interest in preserving the parent-child relationship; and (3) any
competing interest of the child.” In re Welfare of R.T.B., 492 N.W.2d 1, 4
The district court’s findings do not specifically address the interest of mother and the children in preserving the parent-child relationship. But the findings do address why adoption and not long-term foster care or placement with relatives is in the children’s best interests, and it is implicit in these findings that the children’s interests in obtaining a permanent home outweigh any detriment of severing the parent-child relationship. A finding that the need for permanency outweighs competing factors shows sufficient consideration of a child’s best interests. See In re Welfare of the Child of W.L.P., 678 N.W.2d 703, 711 (Minn. App. 2004) (concluding that the district court’s failure to make detailed findings on best-interests factors was not abuse of discretion when mother had shown progress on her case plan but had not maintained sobriety and when the district court concluded that a need for permanency outweighed competing interests). We conclude that the district court’s findings adequately address the children’s best interests.
objects to the district court’s verbatim adoption of the county’s proposed
findings. The Minnesota Supreme Court
has cautioned against the verbatim adoption of proposed findings. See,
e.g., In re Children of T.A.A.,
702 N.W.2d 703, 707 n.2 (Minn. 2005) (acknowledging the short deadline in TPR
cases but noting that the better practice is for the district court to draft
its own findings rather than to adopt proposed findings verbatim). But the verbatim adoption of proposed
findings alone is insufficient grounds for reversal if, upon careful review of
the record, this court concludes that the district court’s findings are not
clearly erroneous. Dukes v. State, 621 N.W.2d 246, 258-59 (
* Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.