Family Law

Family Law News Issue 2, 2019, Volume 41, No. 2

Why Utah?

Roz Bateman Smith

Roz Bateman Smith, Esq. has practiced exclusively in the area of Family Law since passing the California State Bar examination in February of 2013. Prior to becoming an attorney, she enjoyed a 26-year career with the Sonoma County Superior Court. As an attorney, she sits on the Sonoma County DV Death Review Committee, Sonoma County Mental Health Liaison Committee, and is a Legislative Liaison for FLEXCOM.

What options do parents have when their child has severe depression, is self-harming, refuses voluntary out-of-home therapy, and is about to be released from involuntary placement? Over the years I have heard of bootcamps or wilderness camps in Utah, where parents send their teens for out-of-home therapy. I thought Utah was chosen because of its desert and wilderness aspects. But, that is not correct. The reason is California is a no-hold state. Parents cannot place their child in a residential mental health facility without the child’s consent if she is 12 years of age or older.1 However, in Utah, there is no law requiring the child’s consent.2

Minors have the same rights as adults regarding due process and seizure without probable cause against involuntary placement. Neither the parents nor the court can order placement of a child against her will unless she is in imminent danger of harm to herself or others or is gravely disabled. In regard to a 14-year-old child who objected to placement, the court in In re Roger S. stated, "We conclude, therefore, that no interest of the state or of a parent sufficiently outweighs the liberty interest of a minor old enough to independently exercise his right to due process to permit the parent to deprive him of that right."3 Minors are also granted the ability by statute4 to consent to mental health treatment if they are 12 years old and above, are mature enough to participate intelligently in the residential shelter services, and would present a danger of serious physical or mental harm to self or others without the treatment.

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