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VOLUME 16 | NUMBER 4 | APRIL/ MAY 2016
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Recent Case Summaries
 
Family Law
Posted: Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Juvenile court did not abuse its discretion when it determined that terminating parental rights as to infant would not substantially interfere with child's relationships with older half-siblings, given caregivers' assurances that sibling visits would continue and their proven track record of facilitating visits.

In re D.O.
filed Apr. 11, 2016, publication ordered May 3, 2016, Fourth District, Div. One
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 2274
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Family Law
Posted: Monday, May 2, 2016
Where derivative Social Security benefits payable to child, as a result of father's disability, exceeded father's monthly support obligation, father was entitled not only to have the benefits set off against the monthly support obligation, but to have the excess credited against arrears.

In re Marriage of Hall & Frencher
filed Apr. 29, 2016, Fourth District, Div. Two
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 2216
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Family Law
Posted: Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Juvenile court's error in transferring dependency cases without considering whether transfer was in the children's best interests required reversal, notwithstanding the assertion by the social services agency in the transferor county that its counterpart in the transferee county was now providing services and returning the case would further delay the dependency proceedings.

In re Nia A.
filed Apr. 26, 2016, First District, Div. Three
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 2135
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Family Law
Posted: Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Doctrine of implied findings applied to custody order when parties did not request a statement of decision, the court did not prepare one, and the settled statement used by the parties did not contain an express statement by the trial court that it complied with the procedures required for adopting a statement of decision and that the settled statement would serve as the court's statement of decision.

A.G. v. C.S.
filed Apr. 27, 2016, Third District
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 2139
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Family Law
Posted: Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Evidence was sufficient to support a jurisdictional finding, in a dependency proceeding involving the mother’s other children, that she “caused” the death of the 3-year-old through neglect. Mother allowed her 3-year-old child to walk away unattended from the family home, thus exposing her to dangers, and that child was killed as a result of being struck by a metal gate that fell on her while playing unattended in an alley 120 feet from the home.

In re Mia Z.
filed April 20, 2016, Second District, Div. Eight
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 1965
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Family Law
Posted: Monday, April 18, 2016
When a relative requests placement of a dependent child prior to the dispositional hearing, and the social services agency does not timely complete a relative home assessment as required by law, the relative requesting placement is entitled to a hearing under Welfare and Institutions Code Sec. 361.3--governing relative placement--without having to file a Sec. 388 petition for modification.

In re Isabella G.
filed March 30, 2016, publication ordered April 18, 2016, Fourth District, Div. One
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 1918
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Family Law
Posted: Friday, April 8, 2016
In determining whether a third parent may establish a relationship with a child, pursuant to Family Code Sec. 7612(c), trial court must consider the totality of the circumstances. Denial of petition to establish such a relationship was error where apparently based on the narrow conclusion that recognizing only two parents--the child’s mother and biological father--would not be detrimental to child.

Martinez v. Vaziri
filed April 8, 2016, Sixth District
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 1807
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Family Law
Posted: Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Father’s "extraordinary and unmitigated pattern of obstruction," including refusal to drug test and participate in his daughter’s dependency case, and hostile behavior toward social workers, showed a pervasive indifference to the child’s safety and to the amelioration of the conditions giving rise to the dependency. Under the disentitlement doctrine, father could not maintain appeal based on claim that evidence of his drug use was insufficient to support child’s removal from his custody.

In re A.K.
filed March 16, 2016, publication ordered April 5, 2016, Fourth District, Div. Two
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 1736
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Family Law
Posted: Friday, March 25, 2016
Substantial evidence supported juvenile court’s jurisdictional determination that defendant was the alleged but not the biological father of child who was the subject of dependency petition. Child’s paternal grandmother said she did not believe the child was defendant’s because mother was with other people at the time of child’s conception, and defendant had vacillated as to whether child was his.

In re H.R.
filed February 25, 2016, publication ordered March 25, 2016, Second District, Div. Eight
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 1547
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Family Law
Posted: Friday, March 4, 2016
Trial court abused its discretion by failing to rule, in a written order, on a litigant's timely motion for a settled statement, following an unreported trial, under Rule 8.137 of the California Rules of Court; where there was no basis in the record for denying the motion, the moving party was entitled to the settled statement. Trial court abused its discretion in ordering moving party to pay opposing party's attorney fees in connection with the requested preparation of a settled statement, where the order was entered without a motion, without the required findings, and based on the false premise that moving party was responsible for the protracted nature of the proceedings on her motion.

Mooney v. Superior Court (Mooney)
filed Feb. 9, 2016, publication ordered Mar. 4, 2016, Sixth District
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 1261
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Family Law
Posted: Thursday, March 3, 2016
Minor, in an effort to qualify for "special immigrant juvenile" status and avoid deportation, brought a Uniform Parentage Act action against her mother with whom she was residing, and her father’s identity and whereabouts were known. Trial court did not abuse its discretion by requiring child to join father in the action. Child may seek a custody order and/or SIJ findings in a parentage action based on non-custodial parent’s abuse, neglect or abandonment by naming that parent as a respondent and stating all the pertinent facts relating to parentage and alleged abuse, neglect or abandonment.

Bianka M. v. Superior Court
filed March 2, 2016, Second District, Div. Three
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 1228
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Family Law
Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2016
In the absence of a reporter’s transcript, family law litigant’s appearance at a hearing on a motion to enforce prior orders must be presumed to have constituted a general submission to the court’s jurisdiction over his person so that his subsequent motion to quash service was properly denied. Litigant forfeited his objection to an untimely hearing notice by waiting several months to bring up the issue. Absence of a reporter’s transcript prevents litigant from overcoming the presumption of correctness with respect to court’s finding that the opposing party was a resident of California. The court thus had subject matter jurisdiction. Litigant’s petition for relief in the court of appeal was effective to hold open his time to plead, such that the trial court erred by directing the entry of default while the petition was pending.

In re Marriage of Obrecht
filed February 24, 2016, Sixth District
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 1071
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Family Law
Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Infant was taken from her parents after they were arrested on charges relating to a marijuana grow house where they were reported to be living with the child. Mother took immediate steps to move out of the house--which by the time of the contested jurisdictional hearing was empty and listed for sale--and juvenile court awarded mother custody and dismissed the dependency proceeding. Mother’s appeal of the jurisdictional orders was moot.

In re N.S.
filed February 24, 2016, First District, Div. One
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 1077
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Family Law
Posted: Friday, February 19, 2016
Trial court did not abuse its equitable discretion in hearing supporting spouse’s request for reduction of support, notwithstanding supported spouse’s contention that failure to pay support for "several months" should have resulted in denial of the request under disentitlement doctrine. Ex-wife’s drawing on her share of ex-husband’s pension was a material change of circumstances supporting reduction in support. Trial court was not precluded from treating former husband’s age--61--as a "normal" retirement age, but retirement does not automatically require reduction in support obligations. It was error to grant reduction without a statement of decision explaining court’s weighing of the Family Code Sec. 4320 factors.

In re Marriage of Shimkus
filed February 18, 2016, Fourth District, Div. Three
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 972
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Family Law
Posted: Friday, February 12, 2016
Dependency court erred in applying Family Code Sec. 7612(c), which allows the court to find that a child has three parents "in an appropriate action," to a case in which mother's husband was conclusively presumed to be the child's father and the court's finding that the putative biological father was a parent under Sec. 7612(c) was inconsistent with its determination that he and the child lacked an existing parent-child relationship.

In re Donovan L.
filed Feb. 11, 2016, Fourth District, Div. One
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 861
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