106 Children’s Legal Rights Journal [Vol. 37: 1 2017]
finder is entitled to rely.” 182 The court in S.E.A. used this reasoning to find that the trial court
erred in relying on the GAL Report for its findings of fact, and concluded that a “full evidentiary
hearing is a necessary pre-requisite to entry of a permanent custody order” in a child protection
In M.L. W. v. Home Adoption Agency, 184 a pregnant mother looked into the possibility of placing
the parties’ three children up for adoption. 185 The children had been living with the mother in
squalid conditions, and were later moved into foster care.186 The adoption agency that the
mother had contacted identified two adoptive families for the children and the foster care agency
petitioned the court to have the parents’ rights terminated.187 The trial court appointed counsel
for the parents and a GAL for the children.188 The GAL provided reports to the court and
participated in the evidentiary hearing.189 The father contested the termination of his parental
rights.190 The court conducted a hearing, and entered Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law
that supported termination for each child.191 On appeal, the father argued that the Findings of
Fact were improper to the extent that they relied on the GAL’s report as to best interests, and the
appellate court agreed: “paragraph 11 [related to best interests] is not a proper ‘factual finding,’
it is simply a description of the report filed by the GAL, which . . . ought not to have been
182 Morgan, 441 S.W.3d at 112.
183 S.E.A., 470 S.W.3d at 743.
184 M.L. W. v. Heart to Home Adoption Agency, 2015-CA-001110-ME, 2016 WL 3213493, at 1 (Ky. App. June 10,
189 M.L. W. v. Heart to Home Adoption Agency, 2015-CA-001110-ME, 2016 WL 3213493, at 2 (Ky. App. June 10,
190 Id. at 1.