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In Re A.C., A Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. A.L

February 17, 2011

IN RE A.C., A PERSON COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW. SACRAMENTO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
A.L., DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. No. JD218865)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mauro,j.

In re A.C. CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

A.L., father of minor A.C., appeals from a juvenile court order terminating his parental rights. (Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 366.26, 395 [further undesignated statutory references are to the Welfare and Institutions Code].) In the trial court, father did not establish any exception to the statutory preference for adoption that would have prevented termination of his parental rights. On appeal, however, father contends he has standing to assert mother's alleged beneficial relationship with the minor. (§ 366.26, subd. (c)(1)(B)(i).)

We conclude father lacks standing to assert an exception involving mother's relationship with the minor, because the circumstances asserted by father have no bearing on whether the trial court erred in terminating father's parental rights. We will dismiss the appeal.

FACTS

Minor was first removed from mother's custody in December 2002 due to mother's neglect. After 16 months of services, minor was returned to mother's care under supervision. The first dependency was terminated in December 2004.

In June 2008, the nine-year-old minor was again removed from mother's care. Mother was not taking her medication and her resulting irrational behavior placed minor at risk of harm.

The jurisdiction disposition report stated father was incarcerated in state prison. Minor wanted to live with mother if mother could take care of her. The maternal grandmother told the social worker that minor often stayed in her home while mother was gone for extended periods. An addendum report recommended denying services to father, stating he had two violent felony convictions and had been in and out of custody for the last six years. At disposition, the court denied reunification services for father pursuant to Robert L. v. Superior Court (1996) 45 Cal.App.4th 619, 627-628 [service plan not required for non-custodial parent who is not seeking custody] and ordered reunification services for mother.

During the reunification period, mother had supervised visitation with minor. Mother missed a few visits in the first six months of reunification but became more inconsistent in attending visits as time went on. Mother failed to reunify and the court set a hearing to select a permanent plan pursuant to section 366.26.

The November 2009 report for the section 366.26 hearing recommended long-term foster care for minor because the foster parent was having family problems which could preclude pursuing guardianship of the minor. An addendum report in January 2010 stated the foster mother had resolved some of the issues which precluded guardianship as a permanent plan, but that minor did not favor either adoption or guardianship. A supplemental report in April 2010 stated minor was now willing to be adopted if she could keep her name and have ongoing contact with her birth family. The foster mother agreed to permit this. Minor indicated she was tired of waiting for her mother and family, none of whom sent her a card or called to talk to her on her birthday.

Father filed a pre-trial statement identifying the following legal issues for trial: whether termination of parental rights would be detrimental to the minor, and whether the minor was adoptable. At the section 366.26 hearing, which commenced in June 2010, father was present in custody and mother was not present. During the hearing, father argued that minor's wishes should be entitled to great weight although she was not yet 12 years old. Father opposed termination of parental rights because of minor's relationship with mother.

Mother's counsel called minor to testify. Minor said she had a close relationship with mother and would prefer to live with her. Minor further testified she was very happy in her current placement. She understood adoption meant it was possible she would not see her mother again, but that her foster mother told her she was going to be able to see her mother. Minor stated she would prefer guardianship as a permanent plan. Minor added that, if the foster mother changed her mind about letting her see her family, she would not want to be adopted, but she trusted her foster mother to follow through with what she had said. Minor expressed ambivalence about adoption, feeling both sad because her parents' rights would be taken away and happy because she would get to stay with her foster mother. When questioned by the court, minor stated she was concerned about adoption if it meant she would not be able to see her family, but she believed the foster mother would let her see her ...


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