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In Re E.S., A Minor Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. P.A

March 27, 2012

IN RE E.S., A MINOR COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW. SACRAMENTO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
P.A., DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. No. JD229481)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Duarte , J.

In re E.S. 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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Paula A. (mother) appeals from the juvenile court's orders terminating dependency and awarding sole physical custody and joint legal custody of her son, E.S. (minor) to his father (father). (Welf. & Inst. Code,*fn1 §§ 358, 360, 395.) Mother contends the juvenile court erred by placing minor with father and terminating dependency jurisdiction. We disagree and shall affirm.

FACTUAL*fn2 AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) filed a section 300 petition on behalf of minor on March 27, 2009, due to physical abuse in the home of mother and her live-in boyfriend, Juan L. At the time, minor was eight years old.*fn3 DHHS located minor's father, who appeared at the April 22, 2009, prejurisdiction hearing. He was living in San Jose, and had not been involved in minor's life for approximately two years, but he was paying child support in the amount of $671 a month. He indicated he was interested in having minor placed with him.

At the July 21, 2009, combined jurisdiction and disposition hearing, minor and the other children were returned to mother's home with supervision and services. Father was granted visitation.

On December 1, 2009, a second petition (§§ 342, 387) was filed, alleging Juan L. had been in a fight and shot in front of the house. The children had been sent inside prior to the shooting but were aware of the circumstances. Minor and the other children were again detained.

After the children were detained and placed in foster care the second time, they began disclosing various incidents of mother's physical abuse. Some of the reported abuse took place after the children had been returned to mother's home and after she had been participating in services. The petition was amended to include allegations of mother's physical abuse.

Although father had not been visiting minor since the July 2009 order placing minor with mother,*fn4 he appeared at the January 29, 2010, placement hearing and asked for placement. Father was employed, had available daycare arranged with family members, had no criminal history, and had no history of substance abuse. DHHS did not think placement with father would be detrimental to minor's safety, protection or physical well-being.

Minor's counsel, however, opposed placement with father, due to concerns about father's failure to visit and develop a relationship with minor over the previous seven months. The juvenile court acknowledged that it had been difficult for father to visit but, particularly in light of minor's need for continuity with services, father would need to become involved in minor's life before minor would be placed with him.

Father began visiting minor that day. The social worker observed that, during the first visit, "it was apparent the child knew the father and they shared a past bond." Thereafter, during a visit February 11, 2010, minor asked father if father could protect him if he disclosed something. Minor then disclosed that mother had hit him and his siblings with hangers and a belt all over his body, including his face, and that she had choked him. He said he was afraid of mother, asked if the police could protect him in court, and asked father to attend court if he had to go again.

Father and minor had an unsupervised weekend visit from February 12 to February 15, 2010. Thereafter, minor's foster parent reported minor had not stopped talking about the time he spent with father and the next time he would be able to visit. Minor, however, was at risk of another placement change due to his aggressive and defiant behavior. He was placed with one of Juan L.'s ...


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