may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Filed May 26, 1998
Reverse and remand
Toussaint, Chief Judge
Hennepin County District Court
File No. J596057218
William E. McGee, Hennepin County Public Defender, Ann Remington, Assistant Public Defender, Western Union Building, Suite 200, 317 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55401-0809 (for respondent Grealondia Woodland)
Julia M. Inz, Assistant Public Defender, Western Union Building, Suite 200, 317 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55401-0809 (for respondent Terry Fletcher)
Linda DeBeer, 1313 Fifth Street, S.E., Suite 126B, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for respondent Connie Steele, Guardian ad Litem)
Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Mulally, Judge, and Foley, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Hennepin County Department of Children and Family Services (County) challenges the district court's disposition order that adjudicated T.F. to be a child in need of protection or services with respect to her mother Grealondia Woodland, but not with respect to her father Terry Fletcher, and directed the return of T.F. to her parents under protective supervision by the County. The County argues that the district court erred in limiting the Child in Need of Protection or Services (CHIPs) adjudication only to T.F.'s mother and in not making factual findings as required by Minn. Stat. § 260. 191, subd. 1a (1996). Because the district court did not make statutory findings as required by Minn. Stat. § 260.191, subd. 1a, we reverse the district court's: (1) decision limiting the CHIPs adjudication only to T.F.'s mother; and (2) disposition order directing the return of T. F. to her parents under the county's protective supervision. We remand the case to the district court for written findings pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 260.191, subd. 1a.
"Findings in a CHIPs proceeding will not be reversed unless clearly erroneous or unsupported by substantial evidence." In re Welfare of D.N., 523 N.W.2d 11, 13 (Minn. App. 1994), review denied (Minn. Nov. 29, 1994)(quoting In Re S.G., 390 N.W.2d 336, 341 (Minn. App. 1986)). A reviewing court is not bound by and need not defer to a district court's decision on a purely legal issue. Frost-Benco Elec. Ass'n v. Minnesota Pub. Utils. Comm'n, 358 N.W.2d 639, 642 (Minn. 1984).
Under Minnesota law,
`Child in need of protection or services' means a child who is in need of protection or services because the child:
Minn. Stat. § 260.015, subd. 2 and subd. 2a (9) (1996).
The district court adjudicated T.F. to be a child in need of protection or services pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 260.015, subd. 2a (9), but limiting the adjudication to T.F.'s mother. Under Minnesota law, as long as a child's needs are adequately met by either or both the parents, the child is not in need of protection or services. See In re Welfare of T.L.L., 453 N.W.2d 355, 357 (Minn. App. 1990) (holding that a child is not in need of protection or services because the child's needs are protected and provided for by one parent); While concluding that T.F. was a child in need of protection or services with respect to her mother, but not with respect to her father, the district court did not find that T.F.'s needs were adequately met by her father. To the contrary, the district court stated that "[t]he father's heavy work schedule would dictate that he would not be able to supervise the mother at all times when she interacts with the child." Therefore, to the extent that T.F. was adjudicated to be in need of protection or services, the district court did not err; however the district court erred in limiting the adjudication only to the mother.
A district court has broad discretion in determining the disposition resulting from an adjudication that a child is in need of protection or services. In re Welfare of T.P., 492 N.W.2d 267, 268 (Minn. App. 1992). On appeal, the reviewing court will determine whether the district court made the necessary findings of fact. See Minn. Stat. § 260.191, subd. 1a (1996) (the court must make written findings to support its disposition and other written findings).
The dispositions available to a court once a child is found to be in need of protection or services are set forth in Minn. Stat. § 260.191, subd. 1 (1996). Under the statute, the court may "place the child under the protective supervision of the local social services agency" or transfer legal custody to that agency. Id. In making its disposition, a court must make written findings to support the disposition ordered and set forth in writing the following information:
Why the best interests of the child are served by the disposition ordered;
What alternative dispositions were considered by the court and why such dispositions were not appropriate in the instant case;
(c) How the court's disposition complies with the requirements of section 260.181, subdivision 3; and
(d) Whether reasonable efforts consistent with section 260.012 were made to prevent or eliminate the necessity of the child's removal and to reunify the family after removal. The court's findings must include a brief description of what preventive and reunification efforts were made and why further efforts could not have prevented or eliminated the necessity of removal.
Minn. Stat. § 260.191, subd. 1a (emphasis added). The county argues that the district court failed to comply with the requirements of Minn. Stat. § 260.191, subd. 1a. In its disposition order, the district court ordered T.F.'s return to her parents under the County's protective supervision. However, the district court failed to make written findings to support the disposition order. Id. In its findings of fact, the district court summarized the reports and testimony of the witnesses without making independent findings except the following:
The father and mother of the child reside together; the mother is not employed while the father works outside the home forty to fifty hours per week. The state did not present any evidence that the father would be unfit to care for the child except that he would be unable to protect the child from his wife, the mother because of his work schedule.
In its conclusions of law, the district court stated:
The bulk of the state's evidence is attributable to the actions of the mother only. The only issue surrounding the father and his fitness to have the child, is his relationship to the mother and a presumption that he could not protect the child from the mother's actions. The father's heavy work schedule would dictate that he would not be able to supervise the mother at all times when she interacts with the child.
The record reveals that witnesses offered conflicting testimony regarding Woodland's interactions with T.F., but the district court did not make any findings as to the credibility of the witnesses. Moreover, the district court did not (1) set forth why the best interest of the child would be served by reunification, (2) discuss any alternative dispositions, such as continued out-of-home placement; nor (3) state whether reasonable efforts were made to prevent or eliminate the necessity of the child's removal and to reunify the family after removal.
The district court did not make sufficient findings required by Minn. Stat. § 260. 191, subd. 1a, to facilitate effective appellate review as to whether statutory factors were considered in its decision. In family law matters, to properly perform its reviewing function, a reviewing court needs to have before it clear written findings. See In re Welfare of C.K., 426 N.W.2d 842, 847 (Minn. 1988). Where the record is reasonably clear and the facts are not seriously disputed, the judgment of the district court can be upheld in the absence of findings. Bowman v. Brooklyn Pet Hospital, 311 Minn. 526, 527 247 N.W.2d 424, 425, (Minn. 1976). Here, some of the allegations concerning Woodland's behavior were disputed, thus making it improper for this court to make an independent review of the record. Moreover, because it is unclear whether the district court considered the factors expressly mandated by the statute, an independent review of the record is not appropriate. See Moylan v. Moylan, 384 N.W.2d 859, 865 (Minn. 1986) (while the record may support a district court's decision, it is reversible error if the record fails to reveal that the district court actually considered the appropriate statutory factors).
We reverse the district court's determination that T.F. is a child in need of protection is the extent that adjudication was not applicable to the child's father. We also reverse the district court's disposition order directing the return of T. F. to her parents under the County's protective supervision, and remand the case to the district court for express written findings pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 260.191, subd. 1a. On remand, the district court may hold a hearing and take additional evidence, as it deems necessary in making its disposition. Pending a new disposition by the district court, T. F. shall remain in out-of-home placement.
Reverse and remand.
 Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
 Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.