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In re K.R.

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Second Division

February 23, 2016

IN THE INTEREST OF: K.R., Respondent,
v.
D.D., Appellant

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri. The Honorable John M. Torrence, Judge.

         For Guardians ad litem/Respondent: Kyla J. Grove and A. Renae Adamson, Kansas City, MO.

         For Appellant: Henry C. Service, Kansas City, MO.

         Before Division Two: Cynthia L. Martin, Presiding Judge, and Mark D. Pfeiffer and Karen King Mitchell, Judges. Cynthia L. Martin, Presiding Judge, and Mark D. Pfeiffer, Judge, concur.

          OPINION

         Karen King Mitchell, J.

Page 925

          D.D. (Grandmother), the maternal grandmother of K.R., appeals the trial court's dismissal of Grandmother's petition to adopt K.R. Grandmother argues that the trial court deprived Grandmother of her due process rights by dismissing the petition without notice and hearing. We dismiss the appeal because it is moot.

         Facts

         K.R.'s foster parents filed a petition in the Family Court of Jackson County for termination of parental rights and adoption of K.R. (Case No. 1416-FC08047). Subsequently, Grandmother filed a separate petition in the Family Court of Jackson County to adopt K.R. (Case No. 1416-FC08699). Grandmother never filed a motion to intervene in the foster parents' case,[1] but she did file a motion to consolidate in that case. The cases were not consolidated, and the trial court granted foster parents' petition, terminating the natural parents' rights and ordering that foster parents be named K.R.'s adoptive parents. The trial court subsequently dismissed Grandmother's petition, apparently without first providing notice or holding a hearing.

         Analysis

         The guardian ad litem has filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the case is moot. We must consider mootness " '[b]efore considering the merits of this dispute,'" because " 'we must [first] determine whether or not we have jurisdiction to decide the appeal.'" In Interest of F.R.D., 481 S.W.3d 32, 15 WL 6689429, at *2 (Mo. App. W.D. Nov. 3, 2015) (quoting In Interest of J.T.S., 462 S.W.3d 475, 477 (Mo. App. W.D. 2015)). " 'An appellate court is not permitted to review moot claims of error.'" Id. (quoting J.T.S., 462 S.W.3d at 477). " 'A case is moot when the circumstances that surround it change sufficiently to cause a legal controversy to cease, and a decision by the judiciary would be insignificant in providing effective relief.'" Id. (quoting J.T.S., 462 S.W.3d at 477). The guardian ad litem argues that the present case is moot because the trial court issued a judgment, which is now final, in which the court granted foster parents' request for adoption. We agree.

         This case is controlled by this court's decision in In re K.W., 32 S.W.3d 678, 679 (Mo. App. W.D. 2000). K.W. 's facts were identical to those presented here: in separate, unconsolidated cases, foster parents and grandparents filed petitions for adoption, and the trial court entered judgments granting foster parents' petition and denying grandparents' petition. Id. at 679. The grandparents appealed the denial of their petition, and this court dismissed the appeal as moot, because, " Even assuming, arguendo, we found that the grandparents' petition was wrongly denied, we could not reverse and remand, because the trial court's granting of the foster parents' petition is final." Id.

         This holding is equally applicable here. The trial court granted foster parents' petition for adoption of K.R.[2] And Grandmother does not contest that the ...


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