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In Re Z.H. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court v. S.H. et al

May 15, 2012


(Super. Ct. Nos. JD228059 & JD228060)

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

In re Z.H. CA3


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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.


S.H. (father) and Catherine M. (mother) appeal from the juvenile court's orders terminating their parental rights and ordering adoption as the permanent plan for minors Z.H. and S.H. (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 366.26.)*fn1 Each parent argues that the court erred by finding the beneficial parental relationship exception to adoption inapplicable. We affirm.


On August 15, 2008, Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (the Department) filed section 300 petitions as to two minor girls: Z.H., who was 11 months old, and S.H., who was four years old. The petitions alleged that the minors, who lived with mother, were at risk of sexual abuse because mother's live-in boyfriend was a sex offender and because mother minimized his conviction and maintained his "sex offender status pose[d] no risk to [the minors]." Mother told the social worker that her boyfriend's sexual offense "just" had to do with a rape he had committed when he was 19 years old.

On September 26, 2008, the Department filed amended section 300 petitions which included allegations that mother and father had a history of domestic violence. Father had four domestic violence convictions -- three convictions for inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant and a recent conviction for two counts of violating a court order aimed at preventing domestic violence. The parents were in the process of dissolving the marriage and had an ongoing family law custody battle.*fn2

The jurisdiction/disposition report filed September 11, 2008 recommended foster care for the minors and reunification services for the parents.

An addendum report filed October 22, 2008 stated that mother claimed to have moved in with the paternal grandmother in Yuba County, but it had also been reported that the parents were living together with a friend at father's last known address in Sacramento.

At the jurisdiction/disposition hearing held on October 30, 2008, the juvenile court dismissed the allegation as to mother's boyfriend but sustained the other allegation of the amended section 300 petitions. The court ordered out-of-home placement for the minors and reunification services for the parents.

The permanency report filed March 27, 2009 recommended that the minors be placed with father under dependent supervision and that both parents receive further services. Father, now living with the paternal grandmother in Yuba County, had completed his services and had progressed to weekly unsupervised visitation with the minors. He expected to move in with a family friend if he reunified with the minors. Mother had relocated to Sacramento, had begun but not completed services, and might still be in contact with her former live-in boyfriend. Her visitation was still supervised, and she had missed some visits. S.H. had been referred to Parent-Child Interactive Therapy (PCIT) because of escalating behaviors such as tantrums, physical aggression and not following directions from the previous caretaker.

On April 10, 2009, the minors were placed with father under dependency supervision pending a contested hearing, and that placement order was maintained after the permanency hearing on May 1, 2009.

The permanency review report filed October 15, 2009 recommended placing the minors in both parents' custody under dependent supervision. According to that report, Z.H. was doing well in father's custody. However, there were several reports that father disciplined S.H. by spanking or "whooping" her. It was also reported that father grabbed S.H. by the hair. Father was presented with a corrective action plan in which, among other things, he was told to not use corporal punishment in the future. Father was compliant with services and therapy, but had not completed the 52-week batterer's program required as a condition of parole.

Mother had completed counseling and domestic violence services, but it was unknown whether she had also completed parenting classes. She had had overnight visitation with the minors in father's home. After becoming pregnant by "a classmate" with whom she said she was no longer in contact, she delivered a premature and medically fragile male infant in June 2009. She was living with a friend and receiving financial aid for herself and the infant.

At the permanency review hearing on November 6, 2009, the juvenile court made the recommended findings and orders, finding that both parents were making excellent progress and ordering that the minors be placed with both parents under dependent supervision.

On March 2, 2010, the Department filed section 388 petitions, seeking the removal of the minors from father's care and their placement with mother. According to the petition, father had committed a new act of domestic violence against mother, routinely cursed at mother in front of the minors, and was still using corporal punishment on the minors. S.H. complained that father had pulled her hair and a social worker observed evidence of this on her scalp. Since placement of the minors in the father's care, father had violated three corrective action plans. Father and S.H. were discharged from PCIT for poor attendance and because father did not allow the PCIT therapist to enter the home for services.

On March 19, 2010, the juvenile court ordered that father not reside or remain in the home until ...

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