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VOLUME 16 | NUMBER 4 | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2016
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Recent Case Summaries
 

Family Law
Posted: Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Order terminating reunification services after six months, based on finding that mother had "failed to participate regularly and make substantive progress" in her case plan, was unsupported by substantial evidence where mother's participation was excellent during the last three months of the six-month period.

J.F. v. Superior Court (Orange County Social Services Agency)
filed Aug. 30, 2016, Fourth District, Div. Three
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 4483
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Family Law
Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Under Family Code Sec. 7822, which authorizes the termination of rights of a parent who has not provided support or communicated with the other parent "for a period of one year...with the intent...to abandon the child," the one-year period need not immediately precede the filing of the petition.

In re A.B.
filed Aug. 24, 2016, Fourth District, Div. One
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 4378
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Family Law
Posted: Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Sitting as trier of fact, a trial court may draw its own inferences and conclusions from the evidence when hearing a matter brought pursuant to the Domestic Violence Prevention Act. This includes the power to factually find a "dating relationship" within the meaning of the DVPA even though the parties characterize their relationship as a friendship that does not involve "dating" as that term is commonly understood. Order that defendant "not post photographs, videos, or information about [plaintiff] to any internet site" and to "remove the same from any internet site over which he has access or control" did not violate his First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and expression where he had engaged in such conduct in the past and the court found that his doing so constituted abuse of the plaintiff.

Phillips v. Campbell
filed Aug. 23, 2016, Second District, Div. Six
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 4348
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Family Law
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Juvenile court violated mother's due process rights when it failed to obtain a valid waiver of her right to a contested jurisdictional hearing. Although the court advised mother at the detention hearing of the rights she would have at the upcoming jurisdictional hearing, the court did not properly advise mother at the jurisdictional hearing itself before accepting the parties' submission. Lack of valid waiver was harmless where it could not be reasonably disputed that mother had a history of substance abuse and that she was driving under the influence when her car collided with an embankment, causing child to be injured, and that she failed to promptly seek medical care for the child.

In re S.N.
filed Aug. 17, 2016, Third District
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 4221
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Family Law
Posted: Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Dependency jurisdictional finding relating to father based on his alleged failure to provide children with the necessities of life and his then-current incarceration on burglary charges suffered from several fundamental flaws. The court may not assume jurisdiction over an otherwise well-cared-for child simply because an absent parent has not provided support." A parent's incarceration may provide a basis for dependency jurisdiction only if that parent "cannot arrange for the care of the child." The court's interpretation of the petition as charging that father had failed to protect the children from mother's physical abuse did not provide a basis for jurisdiction because the social services agency never made any such allegation and father had no notice or opportunity to defend against it.

In re Andrew S.
filed Aug. 15, 2016, Second District, Div. Seven
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 4196
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Family Law
Posted: Friday, August 12, 2016
Finding by a sister-state court that father placed minor in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury, during the five years preceding California custody and visitation proceedings, triggered Family Code Sec. 3044's rebuttable presumption that it is not in the best interests of a child to award joint custody to a party who has perpetrated domestic violence. Family court, in rendering its custody and visitation order, committed error requiring reversal by relying on Sec. 3040's preference for frequent and continuing contact with the noncustodial parent in a case to which the Sec. 3044 presumption applied.

Ellis v. Lyons
filed July 14, 2016, publication ordered Aug. 11, 2016, Second District, Div. Five
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 4113
Full text click here Posted: Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Family Law
Posted: Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Family court lacks jurisdiction to consider request for presumed father status once a dependency petition related to the child has been filed. Orders granting such requests were void and juvenile court erred in ruling that it was bound by them.

In re Alexander P.
filed July 29, 2016, First District, Div. One
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 3948
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Family Law
Posted: Friday, July 29, 2016
Family law court order requiring mother to submit to drug testing indefinitely as a condition to further visitation and ordering that a positive drug test result would immediately trigger a return to the reduced visitation schedule imposed by a dependency court "exit order" did not violate Family Code Sec. 3041.5, which specifies the circumstances in which drug testing of a party to a custody or visitation dispute may be ordered.

Heidi S. v. David H.
filed July 28, 2016, Second District, Div. One
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 3831
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Family Law
Posted: Friday, July 15, 2016
Juvenile court committed reversible error by denying, on standing grounds, mother's request for an evidentiary hearing under Welfare and Institutions Code Sec. 364 regarding termination of dependency jurisdiction, placement of child with father, and denial of future family services. Lack of a hearing made harmless-error review impossible.

In re Armando L.
filed July 14, 2016, Fifth District
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 3603
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Family Law
Posted: Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Family law judge awarded physical custody of child to father rather than to mother living in another state, and based the ruling in part on the fact that mother's family in the area where father lived would be able to assist in child's upbringing, and stated that the relocation of that family would constitute changed circumstances in the event of a modification petition. Judge who later heard modification petition after mother's parents relocated to mother's home state was not bound by that statement. Finding that grandparents' relocation was not a sufficient change of circumstances to justify modification of custody order was not an abuse of discretion. There was substantial evidence that the relocation was not genuine and where other family members remained in the area.

Anne H. v. Michael B.
filed June 15, 2016, publication ordered July 12, 2016, First District, Div. One
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 3534
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Family Law
Posted: Monday, July 11, 2016
Denial of request to renew domestic violence restraining order required reversal. Trial court erroneously concluded that there must be new evidence of abuse or threatened abuse to renew the order, that defendant's past abuse or violations of the existing order did not support renewal, that evidence of "new" abuse must be physical in nature, and that evidence of defendant's abuse of the couple's children was not relevant to the DVRO renewal.

Perez v. Torres-Hernandez
filed June 9, 2016, publication ordered July 11, 2016, First District, Div. Four
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 3457
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Family Law
Posted: Monday, July 11, 2016
Substantial evidence supported juvenile court's finding that Indian child's foster parents did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that there was good cause to depart from the Indian Child Welfare Act's placement preferences, considering the bond child developed over time with the foster parents, as well as her relationship with her extended family and half-siblings. Evidence included the capacity of her extended family to maintain and develop her sense of self-identity--including her cultural identity and connection to tribal culture--and the foster parents' relative reluctance or resistance to foster child's relationship with her extended family or encourage exploration of and exposure to her tribal cultural identity.

In re Alexandria P.
filed July 8, 2016, Second District, Div. Five
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 3462
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Family Law
Posted: Monday, June 20, 2016
Social services agency was informed that children subject to dependency proceedings were both eligible to enroll in two different Native American tribes, but no further efforts at ICWA notice were made by the agency or the juvenile court before the juvenile court found, on the agency's advice, that ICWA did not apply. It was error to terminate parental rights and parents were entitled to a remand for the limited purpose of allowing the agency to make active efforts necessary to secure tribal membership for the children, in compliance with rules 5.482(c) and 5.484(c)(2) of the California Rules of Court.

In re Miguel S.
filed June 7, 2016, publication ordered June 17, 2016, Fourth District, Div. Three
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 2916
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Family Law
Posted: Wednesday, June 15, 2016
The juvenile court is terminating a probate guardianship pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code Sec. 728, which permits such termination in a dependency proceeding if it is in the best interests of the minor, the best-interests finding need only be made by a preponderance of the evidence.

In re Z.F.
filed June 15, 2016, Third District
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 2882
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Family Law
Posted: Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in denying an evidentiary hearing on mother's Welfare and Institutions Code Sec. 388 petitions to modify children's three separate placements and place them with their grandmother. Evidence that children were benefiting significantly from the placements supported the court's conclusion that the separate placements were in their best interests in the circumstances, and general assertions in mother's petitions that the children would be better off if they were removed from their placements and placed together with grandmother did not constitute a prima facie showing that required the juvenile court to hold an evidentiary hearing on the petitions.

In re K.L.
filed May 25, 2016, publication ordered June 13, 2016, First District, Div. Four
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 2866
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Family Law
Posted: Monday, June 13, 2016
Juvenile court erred in requiring parental notice before appointing a guardian ad litem for a child who was seeking findings necessary for a "special immigrant juvenile" application under federal law.

Alex R. v Superior Court (Mirian R.)
filed June 13, 2016, Second District, Div. Seven
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 2848
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Family Law
Posted: Friday, June 10, 2016
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act does not apply to adoptions.

Adoption of K.C.
filed June 10, 2016, Second District, Div. Six
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 2832
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Drug treatment ordered as the result of a deferred entry of judgment is "prior court-ordered treatment" for purposes of Welfare and Institutions Code Sec. 361.5(b)(13), which permits the dependency court to bypass reunification if a parent resisted such treatment.

In re E.G.
filed May 17, 2016, publication ordered June 10, 2016, Fourth District, Div. Three
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 2834
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Family Law
Posted: Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Juvenile court was not required to apply the beneficial parent-child relationship exception to termination of parental rights, pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code Sec. 366.26(c)(1)(B)(i), where it reasonably concluded the mother failed to show her relationship with the children outweighed the benefits of adoption. Court properly considered the inconsistency of the mother's parenting, the stable nature of the proposed adoptive home, the strong relationship between the children and the proposed adoptive parent, and the mother's continuing substance abuse issues, among other factors.

In re Noah G.
filed June 6, 2016, Second District, Div. Five
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 2786
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