Recent Family Law Cases (current through 9/24/19)
[Opinions available at: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions-slip.htm]
By: Stephen D. Hamilton, CFLS
In re D.R.
8/30/19, CA 2/8: B293330
F sought to appeal dependency judgment pursuant to WIC 388 alleging he was not given adequate notice of proceedings. Child welfare agency had served F by publication once, and TCT found that service adequate. Reversed. TCT’s finding of reasonable due diligence was error as agency failed to ask F’s eldest son to help in accessing F through Facebook, despite another adult child confirming the same Facebook contact information. Further, because F was a resident of Mexico, failure to comply with Hague Service Convention required reversal and remand.
In re L.M.
9/12/19, CA 4/1: D075120
De facto parents of L.M. (who had been placed in their foster care soon after birth) appealed juvenile court order removing L.M. from their care at 10 months and placing her with another family who had previously adopted L.M.’s sister. Based on close attachment demonstrated by L.M. and her sister, TCT determined it was in L.M.’s best interest to be removed from appellant’s care and placed with her sister’s family. Appellant’s argued that TCT had to first determine that it was in L.M.’s best interest to be removed from their care, without regards to L.M.’s best interest to be placed with her sister. As noted by the TCT, appellants “provided excellent care and did nothing wrong.” Affirmed. “Where, as here, there are two good competing placements, determining whether removal is in the child’s best interest necessarily requires the court to evaluate which placement best serves these goals.” Under WIC 366.26(n)(3)(B), a TCT is permitted to consider a future placement in determining whether removal is in a child’s best interests.
In re I.A.
9/18/19, CA4/2: E071757
Two siblings were the subject of multiple dependency proceedings in which they were removed from M and placed with F, removed from F and placed with M and then removed again from M in the current action. TCT found the provision to bypass reunification services (as recommended by child welfare agency) did not apply. Reversed and remanded with direction to TCT to deny reunification services. CtA held “… the bypass provision under section 361.5(b)(10) applies to the ‘same child’ or “same children.’”