Mr. Mortensen’s most recent successful appeal is In re G.J.C., 2016 UT App 147, issued by the Utah Court of Appeals on July 14, 2016.
Mr. Mortensen represented the mother of a young child. The mother sought to terminate the father’s parental rights after the father had repeatedly violated court orders and after the father had at gunpoint kidnapped the mother’s parents (while father was unlawfully withholding the child from mother). Father’s conduct had resulted in father being sent to prison for up to five years.
At trial before the juvenile court judge, Mr. Mortensen presented an overwhelming case in support of termination of father’s parental rights. Faced with the evidence, the juvenile court judge found numerous serious grounds to terminate the father’s parental rights.
However, the juvenile court judge declined to terminate the father’s parental rights, ruling that termination was not in the child’s best interests. Because the ruling was manifestly illogical, Mr. Mortensen filed an appeal on behalf of the mother.
The mother’s appeal needed to show the Court of Appeals panel that the juvenile court judge’s best interests ruling was against the clear weight of the evidence. Because Mr. Mortensen had, at trial, presented extensive evidence clearly showing that the child’s best interests required termination of the father’s parental rights, the record was in place to support the mother’s appeal.
Mr. Mortensen drafted a detailed petition on appeal summarizing the facts and identifying numerous errors made by the juvenile court judge. Because the petition showed that the child’s best interests obviously required termination of the father’s parental rights, the appeal-level guardian ad litem undertook to support the mother’s appeal.
Mr. Mortensen then thoroughly briefed the case, presenting compelling arguments to persuade the Court of Appeals that it should reverse the juvenile court judge’s ruling. Happily, the Court of Appeals panel reversed the juvenile court’s best interest ruling. The Court of Appeals ruled that the juvenile court judge’s decision to not terminate was against the clear weight of the evidence and ordered the juvenile court judge to terminate the father’s parental rights.
Mr. Mortensen practices in all areas of family law, including divorce, property distribution, child custody, and alimony, as well as termination of parental rights. He represents both men and women with equal zeal and believes that the court system is substantially fair to both genders.