California

ABUSE

CHILD WITNESSES

Gonzalez v. Dept. of Soc. Servs., 163 Cal. Rptr. 3d 110 (Cal. Ct. App. 2013). Hearing officer in administrative hearing abused discretion in refusing to permit 13-year-old alleged victim and daughter to testify. Speculation based on age that she would be traumatized did not amount to good cause to exclude her testimony; in fact agency caseworker told officer the youth was outside the courtroom and “very eager” to testify, contradicting finding.

REPORTING

B.H. v. County of San Bernardino, 2015 WL 7708297 (Cal.). Child, through guardian ad litem, brought action against county, deputy sheriff, and others for failing to cross-report initial child abuse allegations to child welfare agency, in violation of state reporting statute. Appellate court found county sheriff’s department had duty to inform child welfare agency of initial 911 emergency call reporting possible abuse of child, and deputy sheriff investigating initial report of potential child abuse did not have duty as mandated reporter to make additional reports about same incident. 

ADOPTION

APPEALS

A.M. v. Superior Court, 2015 WL 3561589 (Cal. Ct. App.). Juvenile court order changing eight-year-old disabled child’s permanent plan to adoption four years after parental rights were terminated was not appealable even though juvenile court did not expressly advise parties they had to challenge order by writ petition. However, court elected to treat appeal as writ petition because extraordinary circumstances required that underlying issues advocated by child’s guardian ad litem receive review.

DELINQUENCY

COMPETENCY

In re Jesus G., 218 Cal.App.4th 157 (Cal. Ct. App. 2013). Where a 14 year old was on trial for sexual offenses and he could communicate in Spanish at age-level but his memory processing was that of a typical six year old and he suffered from hallucinations and paranoia, court should have ordered services for mental health and education, despite mental health and probation official’s claims that appropriate services were not available based on protocol regarding juvenile competency. 

CONDITIONS OF PROBATION

In re George F., 2016 WL 3540949 (Cal. Ct. App.). Probation conditions restricting juvenile’s use of electronics or requiring submission of those electronics to search were reasonably related to his supervision after he admitted molesting minor child. Uncontested restrictions prohibited juvenile from accessing sexually explicit materials and from associating with children under age 10. Contested conditions provided probation department with information necessary to enforce uncontested conditions. 

EQUAL PROTECTION

In re C.H., 2016 WL 4529205 (Cal. Ct. App.). Juvenile’s adjudication for felony grand theft was reclassified as misdemeanor under state ‘Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act,’ which did not require expungement of juvenile’s DNA sample upon reclassification. Disparate treatment of juvenile offenders based on timing of offense reclassification did not violate equal protection because disparity was supported by rational basis that denying expungement results in more comprehensive DNA database.

EVIDENCE

In re Jose O., 180 Cal. Rptr. 3d 804 (2014). Evidence was insufficient to support determination that juvenile caused or contributed to delinquency of a minor, his girlfriend, who ran away from her father as he tried to locate her. When they saw her father approach them, both juvenile and minor ran. There was no indication that juvenile said anything or made any gestures encouraging minor to run or that he aided her flight in any way. It was not reasonable to infer that minor fled from her father only because juvenile also ran away.

EXPERT WITNESSES

In re O.D., 164 Cal.Rptr.3d 578 (Ct. App.). Testimony of fingerprinting expert was properly included in delinquency adjudication and did not run afoul of Frye v. U.S., which prohibits scientific evidence that might convey an undue aura of certainty when the technology has not been generally accepted by the field. Fingerprinting is not subject to the rule because it uses a detailed method of comparison that can easily be understood by lay people. Also, the expert testified that the science was not infallible.

DEPENDENCY

ADJUDICATION

In re Marquis H., 212 Cal.App.4th 718 (Cal. Ct. App. 2013). Trial court properly adjudicated child dependent where his parents physically abused their grandchildren. Statute’s reference to abuse of ‘siblings’ was an example of the type of evidence that might show a child was at serious risk of future abuse even though the child was not personally abused. There was ample evidence of severe abuse of the other children, some of it witnessed by their son, to justify adjudication.

AGGRAVATED CIRCUMSTANCES

A.A. v. Superior Court, 209 Cal.App.4th 237 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012). Trial court erred in finding mother had abducted child and determining state could thus bypass reunification efforts where the mother, who had physical custody but an open family maintenance case, moved with the child out of state without notifying the agency. Though her erratic behavior may have amounted to further neglect, it was not an abduction for purposes of the aggravated circumstances statute.

In re Lana S., 142 Cal. Rptr. 3d 792 (Ct. App. 2012). In case where mother appealed decision to end reunification services, trial court properly determined that aggravated circumstances existed as to younger child because mother’s older child was terminated in prior case. Though earlier case resulted from a petition based on domestic violence and current case was due to substance abuse, finding was not improper as mother had been given assistance in prior case with substance abuse, and substance abuse contributed to prior termination, even if it was not the basis for the petition.

AMENDED PETITION

Andrew L. v. Michael L., 192 Cal.App.4th 683 (Cal. Ct. App. 2011). Child welfare agency’s amendment of dependency petition to delete allegation that child had suffered subdural hematoma that indicated possible abuse after doctor reevaluated her original opinion did not prejudice father or violate due process; agency gave all parties notice of the issues being litigated and court conducted full hearing at which parties had an opportunity to be heard.

DISPOSITION


In re D.G.,
208 Cal.App.4th 1562 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012). Trial court, after finding father sexually abused child, did not act outside its authority in allowing the child to be placed with mother on condition that the father leave the home. Decision was supported by the fact that mother did not believe allegations and failed to protect the child such that a lesser alternative to the father’s removal was not presented.

DUE PROCESS

In re J.S., 217 Cal. Rptr.3d 91 (Ct. App. 2017). Appellate court found mother’s due process rights were violated when juvenile court prevented her from testifying about minor son’s relationship with sibling to support sibling exception to termination of parental rights. Statute lists strong relationship with sibling as exception to termination, and mother would have testified to strong sibling bond between older child and younger son. Without testimony, mother had no other evidence of siblings’ relationship.

In re R.T., 3 Cal. 5th 622 (Ct. App. 2017). Mother appealed order of dependency based on her inability to provide appropriate parental care and supervision due to daughter’s chronic runaway behavior and acting out. Due process does not require finding of unfitness or neglect before court assumes dependency jurisdiction over child harmed as result of “failure or inability of his or her parent or guardian to adequately supervise or protect the child.” Daughter refused to return to mother’s home and care, and minor, who was teenager and already mother herself, was at substantial risk of serious harm. 

In re S.N., 206 Cal. Rptr. 3d 420 (2016). Juvenile court’s due process violation in failing to get personal waiver of contested jurisdictional hearing from mother was harmless because evidence supporting finding of jurisdiction was overwhelming. Evidence included two witnesses who saw mother’s reckless driving and odd behavior, child’s statement to social worker that mother admitted being drunk before collision, and mother’s positive test for marijuana and alcohol.

EMANCIPATION

In re J.S., 132 Cal. Rptr. 3d 244 (Ct. App.). A teenaged pregnant minor who had been adjudicated dependent in California was effectively emancipated when she married her boyfriend with her mother’s consent in Nevada. Although the teen was under California juvenile court jurisdiction, the court never removed her from her mother’s custody and control. Therefore, the mother could still exercise her parental rights. Nevada law permits a person between the ages 16-18 to marry with a parent’s consent. Since the marriage was valid in California, the minor was emancipated and could no longer be the subject of a dependency proceeding.

EMOTIONAL ABUSE

In re Daisy H., 120 Cal. Rptr. 3d 709 (Ct. App. 2011). Evidence was insufficient for dependency jurisdiction based on emotional harm where father called mother derogatory names and children reported not being afraid of father; jurisdiction based on emotional harm requires showing that a child is suffering or at risk of suffering severe anxiety, depression, or aggression.

In re Jesus M., 2015 WL 1208624 (Cal. Ct. App.). Child dependency statute does not provide for jurisdiction based on emotional harm and requires proof of physical harm or substantial risk of such harm. Court’s finding that father’s harassment of children’s mother in violation of restraining order and denigrating mother to the children placed children at risk of emotional but not physical injury was insufficient to assert jurisdiction. 

GROUNDS

In re Ethan C., 54 Cal.4th 610 (Cal. 2012). In case where daughter was killed in a car accident and would likely have survived but for her father failing to place her in a secured car seat, trial court correctly adjudicated the siblings dependent. Statutory ground allowing removal when a parent causes the death of another child through abuse or neglect did not require the neglect to rise to the level of criminal neglect or that there be independent evidence that there was a current threat of harm. The court can infer a current threat of harm from the circumstances of the child’s death.

GUARDIAN AD LITEM

Imperial County Dep’t Soc. Servs. v. S.S., 2015 WL 8484518 (Cal. Ct. App.). Child welfare agency filed dependency petition for one-year-old child and placed child in foster parents’ home, where child suffered fatal injuries. Appellate court upheld trial court’s decision that it lacked jurisdiction to appoint guardian ad litem (GAL) to determine cause of death and investigate potential tort claims for child’s estate once child was deceased. 

HEARSAY

In re Christian P., 144 Cal. Rptr. 3d 533 (Ct. App.). Trial court did not err in admitting hearsay statements contained in agency social study because they were corroborated by other substantial evidence. Statements suggested mother abused methamphetamines and other evidence showed she was unemployed, transient, and failed drug tests.

IMMIGRATION

Alex R. v. Superior Court, 2016 WL 3262537 (Cal. Ct. App.). Noncustodial father’s right to due process did not require pre-summons notice of 12-year-old child’s application for appointment of guardian ad litem to pursue parentage action seeking findings allowing special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) status. Although underlying parentage action would affect father’s rights, he would not be disadvantaged by lack of notice of appointment. Notice after summons was issued would sufficiently protect father’s rights.

INDIAN CHILDREN

In re Jack C., 192 Cal.App.4th 967 (Cal. Ct. App. 2011). Trial court improperly denied transfer of dependency case to tribal court because children were not yet enrolled as Chippewa Band members where tribal representative indicated that they had reviewed the family information and children would be enrolled once they received father’s birth certificate; a tribe’s determination of whether a child is a tribal member is conclusive and even tribe never indicated that children needed to be enrolled to be considered members.

INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT

In re Alexandria P., 2016 WL 3676682 (Cal. Ct. App.). Foster parents sought return of Indian child from new placement with extended relatives in Utah. Trial court did not exceed scope of remand or disregard law of case by considering impact on child’s cultural identity if she were to remain with foster parents. Substantial evidence supported finding there was no good cause to depart from Indian Child Welfare Act’s placement preferences. Any error in excluding full report prepared by bonding and attachment expert was harmless, and court did not abuse its discretion by denying foster parents’ request to present additional evidence or testimony.

In re Kadence P., 2015 WL 6859668 (Cal. Ct. App.). Juvenile court found child dependent based on mother’s history of marijuana and methamphetamine abuse, refusal to take drug tests, and attempts to alter test results. Maternal great-uncle’s report that maternal great-great-great-great grandmother was “100 percent” from particular tribe and maternal great-great-great grandmother was “half” from another tribe triggered duty to give Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) notice to both tribes, absent evidence of membership rules.

JURISDICTION

In re Gloria A., 213 Cal.App.4th 476 (Cal. Ct. App. 2013). In case where California and Mexican courts had competing custody orders over child, California lacked subject matter jurisdiction over child under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. There was no evidence child had resided with her mother in the state for more than six months before the dependency petition was filed to create home state status, even if she had been in another U.S. state previously.

In re M.B., 134 Cal. Rptr. 3d 45 (Ct. App. 2011). After mother repeatedly cursed, tied up phone lines with calls and hang ups, and threatened agency caseworker and other staff, juvenile court had authority to issue injunction prohibiting the mother from contacting caseworker except through her attorney or in writing. Although this type of injunction was not listed in the child welfare statute, it fell within the juvenile court’s limited jurisdiction as it reasonably supported protecting the child.

In re Nicholas E., 2015 WL 1956035 (Cal. Ct. App.). Juvenile court’s order dismissing dependency petition against mother without hearing because she had agreed not to object to removal of children from her custody in separate divorce and custody proceedings was appealable. The dismissal order was end of dependency matter and effectively meant that juvenile court was abstaining from exercising its jurisdiction in favor of the family court.

In re Priscilla A., 217 Cal. Rptr.3d 657 (Ct. App.). Appellate court found juvenile court erred in removing minor from father’s custody because evidence did not support finding that father was unfit or neglectful and child was not in category dependency system is intended to protect. Child threatened to hurt herself if returned to live with father and stepmother but evidence did not show daughter’s risk of harm was result of failure or inability by father.

In re W.C., 2016 WL 6024408 (Cal. Ct. App.). Child welfare agency filed dependency petition for 17-year-old youth without guardian. Juvenile court sustained jurisdictional allegation, but dismissed petition before dispositional hearing when youth turned 18. Court denied youth’s request to return to juvenile court jurisdiction and foster care. Failure to appeal dismissal of dependency petition barred nonminor from arguing he became dependent of court.

LEGAL REPRESENTATION

In re J.P., 223 Cal. Rptr. 3d 426 (Ct. App. 2017). Juvenile court was required to appoint counsel for mother of dependent child in group home placement before hearing on petition for modification requesting reappointment of counsel, family reunification services, and extended and liberalized visits with child. Failure to ensure mother was represented deprived her of opportunities to challenge court’s orders and findings and created fundamental unfairness. Changed circumstances and benefit to child’s well-being strongly favored mother’s request, and counsel could have highlighted benefits to child.

In re S.M., 209 Cal.App.4th 21 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012). Court improperly ordered mother to reimburse the cost of legal representation in her dependency case after it included her Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in determining her ability to pay. SSI benefits, which are based on need and provide indigent persons with a minimum level of subsistence income, are exempt from other related statutory provisions, including child support. Requiring payment from those funds for legal representation would defeat the purpose of that program.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

In re Drake M., 211 Cal.App.4th 754 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012).Where child had become involved primarily due to safety concerns regarding the mother’s behavior, but father used marijuana medically, jurisdiction was inappropriate over him without a showing of how his use put the child at substantial risk. Full summary

NONCUSTODIAL PARENTS

In re Abram L., 219 Cal.App.4th 452 (Cal. Ct. App. 2013). After children were removed from mother for physical abuse, dispositional order retaining children in custody was in error where court expressed concerns about father’s housing not having been inspected and poor relationship between the boys and his girlfriend. Statute allows inspection of a noncustodial parent’s home after the children are placed there, and relationship with girlfriend was not shown to harm the boys’ safety, protection, or well-being. 

NONOFFENDING PARENT

In re A.A., 136 Cal. Rptr. 3d 912 (Ct. App. 2012). Where child was removed from father, juvenile court did not abuse its discretion regarding rule on consideration of placement with nonoffending parent when it denied incarcerated mother’s request to place child with her relatives. Mother was not a nonoffending parent because, though prior dependency action had been closed when the child was placed with the father, concerns about the safety of mother’s care had not been remedied.

OLDER YOUTH

In re Shannon M., 221 Cal.App.4th 282 (Cal. Ct. App. 2013). Dependency jurisdiction of 18 year old could only be terminated after addressing her best interests, even though youth left physical custody of agency before turning 18. Statutory section listing criteria for terminating jurisdiction applies to all dependent youth. FULL SUMMARY

PARENTAL PRESUMPTIONS

In re M.C., 195 Cal.App.4th 197 (Cal. Ct. App. 2011). In dependency proceeding involving three presumed parents—the biological mother, the biological and quasi-presumed father, and the biological mother’s ex-wife—trial court had to resolve competing presumptions of paternity and determine which were founded on weightier considerations of policy and logic before granting reunification services.

PETITIONS

In re M.C., 131 Cal. Rptr. 3d 194 (Ct. App.). Juvenile court’s review of county child welfare agency’s decision not to file a dependency petition did not violate separation of powers by usurping the agency’s executive authority. The agency did not have sole discretion to decide whether to bring dependency proceedings and nothing in the Constitution or statutory dependency scheme classified the initiation of dependency proceedings as a core executive function. Therefore, the juvenile court did not violate separation of powers when it reviewed the agency’s decision and ordered it to file dependency proceedings.

PHYSICAL DISABILITY

In re Tyler R., 194 Cal. Rptr. 3d 543 (2015). Dependency jurisdiction based on parent’s disability depends on evaluation of extent of disability and how disability impacts parent’s ability to adequately supervise and protect child. Child welfare agency made reasonable efforts to prevent need for infant’s removal from physically disabled mother’s custody. Agency initially left child in mother’s home, conducted team meeting to create plan to assist mother, and created goal to obtain proper medical diagnosis and care, but mother chose not to follow through on plan.

PLACEMENT

In re Joshua A., 2015 WL 4647660 (Cal. Ct. App.). Mother appealed order placing son in foster care rather than with boyfriend with nonrelative extended family member (NREFM) status. Boyfriend spent one or two nights per week in family home, helped child with homework, and played sports with him, but placement with NREFM must be in child’s best interests. Due to child’s negative reactions, proposed placement with boyfriend would not offer desired degree of stability. Boyfriend also could not adequately supervise child or protect child from his mother. 

PRESUMED FATHER

In re Alexander P., 2016 WL 4098682 (Cal. Ct. App.). Child’s biological father, stepfather, and mother’s former boyfriend sought presumed parent status in dependency case. Despite stepfather’s domestic violence toward mother, evidence showed child would suffer harm if stepfather was not designated presumed father, which was necessary to designate more than one person as presumed father. Child had established, parental relationship with stepfather that was stronger than relationships with either biological father or mother’s former boyfriend. Core issues in determining presumed parent determination are person’s established relationship with and demonstrated commitment to child.

PRIVILEGE

In re M.L., 210 Cal.App.4th 1457 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012). Juvenile court erred in liberally admitting mother’s psychiatric records. Neither her acknowledgment that she had a psychiatrist nor her admission to a number of items that could be found in those records waived her psychiatrist-patient privilege.

REASONABLE EFFORTS

Tracy J. v. Superior Court, 202 Cal.App.4th 1415 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012). Where parents had limited intellectual functioning and mother had physical difficulties including obesity and short arms that made it difficult for her to perform some parenting tasks such as diaper changing, agency failed to make reasonable efforts by providing infrequent visitation. Despite the parents’ limited intellectual functioning, they fully cooperated with services. According to one caseworker, in a year of supervised visits with positive reports by those supervising, the parents still had only one supervised visit a week.

REPRESENTATION

In re Felicity S., 163 Cal.Rptr.3d 846 (Cal. Ct. App. 2013). In appeal of disposition in dependency case, where child had been placed with her sister and expressed that she wanted to remain with her sister, appellate counsel improperly took position contrary to child’s trial counsel. Appellate counsel failed to address how change was based on directions from the child, trial counsel, or the child’s best interests, and counsel’s brief merely mirrored mother’s and did not help the court.

REUNIFICATION

In re B.L., 204 Cal.App.4th 1111 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012). Parents were not entitled to reunification services where child had been placed with grandparents in prior dependency case. Court was required to provide reunification services to the parent or guardian when the child was removed the second time. The grandparents were the guardians and continued services to parents would be inappropriate since the court previously found that further reunification services were unwarranted.

In re Cole Y., 2015 WL 480512 (Cal. Ct. App.). Juvenile court terminated jurisdiction over child in dependency case and issued exit order granting physical custody to mother and monitored visitation to father. Juvenile court lacked authority to condition family court’s modification of exit order on father’s completion of drug and parenting programs and individual counseling. Decision to modify exit order was within province of family court where custody case was pending and then only upon finding of significant change of circumstances and best interest of child.

In re Gabriel K., 203 Cal.App.4th 188 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012). Trial court did not err in denying mother further reunification services for two siblings based on fact that services had been previously stopped for younger child who had then been placed with his father. Though statute only explicitly states that reunification efforts can be stopped where efforts with a sibling had previously failed, to construe the statute such that reunification services could be withheld for the older child but not the younger child who was the subject of the prior finding, would be absurd and would not meet legislative intent.

In re J.E., 207 Cal. Rptr. 3d 642 (2016). In extending reunification services to 24 months, juvenile court acted properly by directing child welfare agency to complete psychological evaluation initially included in minor’s case plan and provide services consistent with results. Court concluded minor’s past molestation of her sister was primary barrier to reunification and minor needed to be assessed for sexual offender treatment. In extending reunification services to 24 months, juvenile court should consider failure to offer or provide reasonable reunification services and likelihood of success of further services.

Patricia W. v. Superior Court, 2016 WL 337220 (Cal. Ct. App.). When parent has mental illness or developmental disability, the condition must be starting point for family reunification plan, which should be tailored to accommodate parent’s unique needs. Child welfare agency could not cease reunification services and change permanency plan to adoption when there was no showing that agency identified mother’s mental health issues or provided services designed to enable mother to obtain appropriate medication and treatment. Evidence did not support finding that mother was provided adequate reunification services.

In re K.C., 212 Cal.App.4th 323 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012). In a goal change hearing, trial court improperly concluded reasonable efforts had been provided to father for a year where little was done to ensure he was able to obtain an evaluation for psychotropic medication as recommended by his initial psychological evaluation. Though agency made a referral to a clinic, it did not assist father after it learned he had been turned away, in part due to his limited communication skills, which had resulted in the recommendation.

In re Katelynn Y., 209 Cal.App.4th 871 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012). Trial court had authority to stop reunification services for mother but continue efforts with father under state statute. Decision was consistent with requirement that the court evaluate parents individually in rendering dispositional orders. Mother’s failure to complete services or visit child for months supported court’s finding that further efforts would be futile.

REUNIFICATION SERVICES

In re E.G., 2016 WL 3232257 (Cal. Ct. App.). Child welfare agency appealed juvenile court decision to provide reunification services to mother who had previously resisted court-ordered drug treatment during three-year period immediately before filing of petition. Appellate court found drug treatment ordered under deferred entry of judgment program was court-ordered treatment for purposes of exception to presumption in favor of family preservation and remanded with instructions to determine whether mother “resisted” treatment and whether reunification services would benefit child.

J.F. v. Superior Court of Orange County, 2016 WL 4529436 (Cal. Ct. App.). Trial court suspended reunification services and set hearing for termination of parental rights in case of three-year-old dependent child, and mother filed for review. Mother made substantive progress in court-ordered substance abuse treatment plan as required to extend reunification services during last three of six months while incarcerated. She also completed in-custody parenting program twice, and used techniques from classes in visitation with son.

M.C. v. Superior Court, 2016 WL 5439823 (Cal. Ct. App.). Appellate court granted mother’s writ of mandate challenging child welfare agency’s termination of reunification services at six-month review hearing in dependency proceeding. Mother made some attempt to comply with case plan, contacted mental health services, and made some effort to visit children. Child welfare agency observed that mother seemingly loved children and exhibited some motivation in progressing with plan.

RISK OF HARM

In re Yolanda L., 2017 WL 345039 (Cal. Ct. App.). Father appealed finding of his four-year-old child as dependent. Father’s possession of methamphetamine found in truck was likely to recur and supported finding of dependency based on risk of harm to child. As matter of first impression, father’s storage of loaded gun in closet also constituted risk sufficient to support dependency. Gun being in bag on shelf would not deter child from discovering it and even with gun removed by law enforcement, father’s involvement in drug trafficking indicated potential of future gun risk.

JUVENILE JUSTICE

PROBATION

In re D.H., 2016 WL 6248442 (Cal. Ct. App.). After admitting to misdemeanor count of indecent exposure, juvenile appealed probation conditions. As matter of first impression, court found condition prohibiting juvenile from accessing “pornography” was inherently vague, violating his due process rights. Juvenile court was required to more precisely define prohibited conduct.

TRAFFICKING

In re N.C., 2016 WL 6472095 (Cal. Ct. App.). Juvenile charged with prostitution in delinquency proceeding filed motion to exclude evidence under Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act (CASE Act), claiming she was victim of human trafficking. Act states evidence victim engaged in “commercial sexual act” as result of human trafficking is inadmissible to prove criminal liability for that act. It applies in juvenile proceedings and to uncompensated sexual conduct. Trial court erred in denying juvenile’s motion to exclude evidence.

SEXUAL ABUSE

In re David R., 151 Cal.Rptr.3d 253 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012). In case where father sexually abused six-year-old daughter, trial court improperly removed two-year-old son as well. State provided no evidence that son was at substantial risk, either through expert testimony or otherwise and research suggests that many sexual abusers only target one sex.

In re I.C., 2015 WL 4692816 (Cal. Ct. App.). Father appealed juvenile court’s dependency finding based on lengthy period between adjudication and disposition. Evidence that father had molested three-year-old daughter supported dispositional order requiring father to move out of family home. Social worker’s testimony and report concluded that child would be at risk if father were allowed to return. Dispositional order will be reversed only if prejudice can be shown from unauthorized delay. 

In re K.R., 215 Cal.App.4th 962 (Cal. Ct. App. 2013). Trial court erred in dismissing petition regarding younger child after finding father had sexually abused older daughter. His aberrant behavior showed that younger child, who was now reaching the age that abuse of the older child occurred, was at risk. Fact that abuse of older child had not happened for several years did not rebut this as this was apparently due to the mother’s actions in restricting his access to her, rather than any successful rehabilitation. 

SIBLINGS

In re A.R., 203 Cal.App.4th 1160 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012). In case involving half-siblings where daughter was found dependent and son was not, trial court erred in ordering visitation and ordering father of son to facilitate visitation because he was not subject to a dependency case and court did not have jurisdiction over the father.

STATUS OFFENSES

ELECTRONIC MONITORING

In re A.M., 220 Cal.App.4th 1494 (Cal. Ct. App. 2013). Trial court properly placed habitually truant youth on probation with Global Positioning System (GPS) monitoring. Youth’s claim that GPS monitoring was improper because it was not enumerated in statute lacked merit. Statute’s broad language allows courts to craft conditions to correct behavior of youth.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE

In re Destiny S., 148 Cal. Rptr. 3d 800 (Ct. App. 2012). Nothing in the record supported removal of child based on mother’s use of marijuana. Child was not at substantial risk of harm. Year-old school tardiness and 10-year-old evidence that child was left unattended lacked immediacy for removal. Child’s apparent exposure to marijuana smoke also did not justify removal as this would set a precedent that any child exposed to smoke, of any type, could be removed.

SUPPORT

In re Anthony G., 123 Cal. Rptr. 3d 660 (Ct. App. 2011). Dependency jurisdiction was improper though father had not provided support because child was not deprived of necessities; dependency proceedings, unlike child support proceedings, require a showing that the child lacked necessities such as food or shelter, which had been provided by the mother and grandmother.

TIME TO APPEAL

In re Reed H., 2016 WL 4618813 (Cal. Ct. App.). Adoption agency petitioned to terminate father’s parental rights to two-year-old child and dispense with father’s consent to adoption by prospective parents. Father filed petition to establish parental relationship, and prospective adoptive parents filed petition to terminate his rights. Sixty-day period for father to appeal began to run when trial court filed and served ruling directing adoptive parents to prepare proposed order and judgment in their favor. Court dismissed father’s notice of appeal as untimely because it was filed outside 60-day period.

VISITATION

In re A.J., 2015 WL 4624097 (Cal. Ct. App.). Evidence was sufficient to support juvenile court’s finding that visitation with biological father would be detrimental to child’s physical safety or emotional well-being. Child had no bonding relationship with father, who frequently violated parole and had serious criminal record including sex crimes against children. Father was not parent under statute governing parental visitation after child was placed in permanent plan of guardianship, and was not presumptively entitled to visits.

TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS

INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT

In re A.C., 191 Cal. Rptr. 3d 701 (Cal. Ct. App.). Evidence at 12-month review hearing was sufficient to support implied finding of detriment to Indian child if returned to father’s custody, even absent live expert testimony. Tribe’s representative agreed at dispositional hearing that removal from father was in child’s best interests. Child was placed in Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) approved home, with tribe’s approval, and recommendations did not change when tribe’s ICWA social worker was assigned.

In re A.G., 204 Cal.App.4th 1390 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012). Juvenile court erred in terminating father’s parental rights where the agency did not make an appropriate inquiry into father’s Indian ancestry. Father reported at the start of case that he might have Indian ancestry and gave ample information for the agency to question relatives, so the agency, not the father, had an affirmative duty to investigate further.

In re A.L., 2015 WL 9584919 (Cal. Ct. App.). Trial court’s failure to allow evidence and make new finding on child welfare agency’s active efforts to avoid breakup of family under Indian Child Welfare Act was harmless error in termination of mother’s parental rights proceeding. Record showed services provided to mother constituted active efforts, including placing children in home of paternal grandmother according to mother’s wishes and ICWA’s placement preference, attempts to maintain contact with mother despite her resistance, and getting her into drug treatment for brief time. 

In re K.M., 195 Cal. Rptr. 3d 126 (2015). Parents appealed termination of parental rights to child. While appeal was pending, juvenile court issued postjudgment order finding child welfare agency complied with Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Appellate court would not augment record on appeal with events occurring in postjudgment hearings six months after termination order. Juvenile court lacked jurisdiction to rule on ICWA issue after it terminated parents’ rights.

MODIFICATION PETITION

In re Alayah J., 215 Cal. Rptr.3d 140 (Ct. App. 2017). Trial court’s error in terminating mother’s parental rights without first considering her dependency modification petition was harmless. Following dependency order, mother petitioned to modify dependency orders to provide unmonitored visits, assessment of her home for overnight visits, and placement of child with her. It was unlikely that mother’s parental rights would not have been terminated if court had first considered her modification petition. Court had indicated that it would only consider mother’s modification petition if parental rights were not terminated.

NONCUSTODIAL PARENT

In re B.H., 2016 WL 67613 (Cal. Ct. App.). Child welfare agency denied father reunification services in dependency case alleging failure to protect, no provision for support, and abuse of sibling. Statute providing that reunification services need not be provided when parent previously failed to reunify with child’s sibling or half sibling applied to noncustodial parent. Father previously failed to reunify with child’s half-sibling, for whom he was noncustodial parent.

SIBLINGS

In re Isaiah S., 2016 WL 6662863 (Cal. Ct. App.). In terminating mother’s parental rights to son, juvenile court found there would not be substantial interference with child’s sibling relationships if he were adopted. Child’s caregiver was committed to maintaining contact with child’s half-brother and preserving mother’s parental rights would not facilitate child’s relationship with half-brother because criminal protective order prevented mother from having contact with half-brother’s father.


In re J.T., 195 Cal.App.4th 707 (Cal. Ct. App. 2011). Sister did not have standing to appeal mother’s termination of parental rights; though she had a statutory right to participate in a permanency hearing to offer evidence that the sibling relationship provided an exception to termination, her rights were not affected by termination, only her mother’s and brother’s rights.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE

In re Noah G., 2016 WL 3156809 (Cal. Ct. App.). Evidence did not show termination of mother’s parental rights would be detrimental to children when weighed against benefits of adoption by maternal grandmother. Mother did not occupy parental role in children’s lives. She appeared overwhelmed, did not follow up on services, and had only monitored visits. Mother had not resolved substance abuse issues and court could infer continued drug use due to 11 missed tests following positive test.

TRUANCY

DISPOSITIONS

In re M.R., 220 Cal.App.4th 49 (Cal. Ct. App. 2013). While statute generally prevented placement of a minor in secure detention for habitual truancy, court could do so on proper contempt finding. In case where juvenile court placed youth in juvenile hall for a weekend however, court did not follow proper procedures for the quasi-criminal matter including applying reasonable doubt standard, providing youth opportunity for a hearing and to call witnesses, finding the violation was egregious, or finding placement was the least-restrictive alternative.

VISITATION

THERAPEUTIC

In re Brittany C., 191 Cal.App.4th 1343 (Cal. Ct. App. 2011). In case where children adamantly refused to visit parents, court order did not violate rule against making a child’s wishes the sole factor in determining whether visitation would take place; court had power to suspend visits if the children might be physically or emotionally harmed and order indicated that visitation would be scheduled by agency based on therapist’s advice.