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March 21, 2006
Case Law Development: Familial Preference in Child Protection Placements
The Nevada Supreme Court granted a writ of mandamus to review a tragic case involving a child's placement upon removal from her Mother for abuse and neglect. The court had placed the child with a foster family, rather than with the child's grandmother, without affording grandmother an opportunity to be heard on the matter. This necessitated Grandmother's filing a separate guardianship proceeding, which the district court then denied because the child had already bonded with the foster family.
The Nevada Supreme Court found that the court had erred in denying the guardianship petition because "the district court failed to ensure that [Grandmother] was involved in and notified of any plan for [Child's] temporary or permanent placement before the petition was filed and thereafter failed to give [Grandmother] the benefit of the familial preference for placement." Examining United States Supreme Court cases and precedent from other states regarding the relative rights of foster parents and family members, the court concluded that "in denying [Grandmother's] visitation petition, the district court gave improper weight to the foster parents' wishes when determining [the child's] best interest."
Matter of Guardianship of N.S., 122 Nev. Adv. Rep. 27, 2006 Nev. LEXIS 31 (March 16, 2006)
Opinion on the web (last visited March 21, 2006 bgf)
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