The juvenile court order denying placement of a 12-year-old minor to the noncustodial father she did not know was proper where there was evidence that placement with the father would cause trauma. At the time of the filing of the dependency petition, the 12-year-old minor did not know her father, who lived out of state. She had not lived with him since she was a toddler. Father had little contact with mother or minor, and did not pay child support. Minor wanted to visit father on holidays or in the summer, but did not want to live with him. She saw father as a stranger who could have contacted her earlier but did not. The minor was close to her maternal grandparents and half sibling, with whom she was placed. She had many school friends and was an A student. The minor and her half-brother were doing well with the maternal grandparents. The minor’s therapist thought it would cause emotional detriment to remove the minor from placement with her grandparents. The Department recommended continued placement with the grandparents, reunification services and visitation for father, and an ICPC evaluation of father’s home. At the disposition hearing, father contended he was entitled to custody as the nonoffending noncustodial parent, and the fact that the minor did not know him was insufficient reason to find detriment. The juvenile court found it would be detrimental to place the minor with father. The appellate court affirmed the order, finding it proper. The record showed that placement with father would cause trauma to the minor. The absence of a relationship between father and the minor was a factor that was permissible to consider, and the minor’s wishes were not dispositive, but relevant. The court has broad discretion to evaluate a minor’s well-being where a placement would impair the child’s emotional security.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B302248.PDF