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Name: Arlena M. v. Superior Court
Case #: E035193
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 04/23/2004

At the six month review hearing, the trial court found that mother had made no progress on her reunification plan concerning the two-year-old minor and set a permanency planning hearing. In mother’s writ petition, she contended that the trial court erred when it failed to advise her at the jurisdictional/dispositional hearing that if she failed to participate in any court-ordered programs, the court could terminate services after six months. Although mother had not been explicitly advised in court, she signed a “waiver of rights” form which included the warning, and indicated in court that she understood the form and had sufficient time to discuss it with counsel. The appellate court denied mother’s writ petition, holding that the warning mandated by section 361.5, subdivision (a)(3) may be provided in writing, as long as the record indicates that the parent represented in court that the advice had been read and understood, as was the case here. Further, even if there were error here, it was harmless. The advice requirement of section 361.5, subdivision (a)(3) has nothing to do with due process; its purpose is merely to impress upon the parent a sense of urgency and seriousness. Even if the requisite advice could not be properly conveyed indirectly, reversal would not be required unless the parent could demonstrate prejudice. Here, there was no evidence that if mother had been directly advised of the possible consequences of her inaction, she would have promptly and consistently participated in the reunification plan.