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In Re A.S. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court v. W.S

April 10, 2012

IN RE A.S. ET AL., PERSONS COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW. SHASTA COUNTY HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
W.S., DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. Nos. 09JVSQ2804501 & 09JVSQ2804601)

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

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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

W.S., father of minors J.S. and A.S. (father), appeals from orders of the juvenile court denying his Welfare and Institutions Code,*fn1 section 388 petitions as to J.S. and A.S. and terminating his parental rights as to J.S. Father contends the court abused its discretion when it denied his request for hearing on his section 388 petitions, and therefore "prematurely" terminated his parental rights as to J.S., improperly denying him visitation as well as due process.

As we will explain, although we understand that this case has been an emotional and frustrating process for father, we find no error. Here, the juvenile court managed the very difficult visitation issues presented by this case to the best of its ability under these unique circumstances, and made every effort to permit father to be heard, at the same time appropriately considering the potential detriment to, and best interests of, both minors. Accordingly, we shall affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND*fn2

I

Removal Through Disposition

Minor J.S. (born January 1999) and her brother A.S. (born December 1994) were removed from parental custody in June 2009 due to father's physical abuse of A.S., which J.S. had witnessed. At the time of the removal, J.S. disclosed to the social worker from the Department of Health and Human Services (Department) that father had touched her chest, buttocks, and thighs "inappropriately."*fn3 The court ordered family reunification services for the parents, including visitation with both children. The children were initially placed together and both refused to visit with either parent. The court ordered the children would not be physically forced to visit if they refused to attend visits.

As the proceedings progressed, J.S. continued to refuse visits with father, and her therapist recommended not forcing her to visit. Although due to the AWOL status of A.S., who had absconded from placement, the parties continued to come to court for regular hearings every 15 days, no progress was made in facilitating visitation between J.S. and father--J.S. simply refused to visit and her therapist continued to opine that she should not be forced to visit against her will. Accordingly, in February 2010, the court determined by a preponderance of the evidence that visitation between the parents and J.S. would be detrimental to J.S.'s well-being.

On April 8, 2010, the Department filed a section 342 petition alleging the parents had failed to protect the minor children. The petition specifically alleged that the prior section 300 petition had been sustained and that services provided pursuant to section 360, subdivision (b) had been ineffective in ameliorating the situation that led to the Department's involvement.*fn4 On July 9, 2010, the court held the jurisdiction/disposition hearing on the section 342 petition. At that hearing, the juvenile court found true the allegations in the section 342 petition and adjudicated the minors to be dependents of the court. The court reaffirmed its prior finding that visits between the parents and J.S. would be detrimental to J.S., and granted the Department discretion to allow A.S. to have overnight visits with the parents, as A.S. was now visiting with both parents despite having initially refused visits.

Father appealed from this dispositional order, claiming error in the initial denial of visitation as well as the later finding of detriment and subsequent denial of visitation. On October 26, 2011, we affirmed the juvenile court's orders regarding visitation, including its detriment finding.*fn5 (In re A.S. et al. (Oct. 26, 2011, C066035) [nonpub. opn.].)

II

Termination of Services ...


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