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Name: Cesar V. v. Superior Court
Case #: G028726
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 08/23/2001
Subsequent History: None

Father’s petition for writ of mandate was granted where the social worker failed to adequately assess the paternal grandmother’s home for placement of the child and the court refused to place the child with the paternal grandmother. Father had made it clear from the time of the six month review hearing that he wanted the children placed with his mother. DSS recommended against placement with the mother following an incomplete evaluation. Between the six month review and the permanency planning hearing, a change in placement became necessary. DSS placed the children in a fost-adopt home. At the permanency planning hearing, reunification services were terminated, and father again challenged the placement. The court did not use its independent judgment to evaluate the grandmother, but reviewed DSS’s actions for abuse of discretion. The appellate court here ordered that the Department complete the assessment of the grandmother for potential placement of the children. The relative placement preference applied even after reunification services were terminated. Under section 361.3, the evaluation of the paternal grandmother was incomplete. Also, section 361.3 requires that before parental rights termination, the court must exercise its independent judgment rather than merely reviewing the Department’s actions for abuse of discretion.