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Name: In re A.F.
Case #: A168850
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 06/07/2024

An alleged father is a “parent” for jurisdiction purposes. Minors were removed due to Father’s substance abuse and perpetration of domestic violence. The jurisdictional allegations as to Father were found true but those against Mother were dismissed. The juvenile court ordered family maintenance services at disposition. Mother appealed and the reviewing court affirmed. Mother contended that an alleged father is not a “parent” within the meaning of section 300, subdivision (b)(1). While an alleged father may not be entitled to the same rights as a presumed father, he is still a parent under section 300 and his abuse of a child can still confer jurisdiction over that child. Here, all parties considered him to be the father of Minors and thus, he was a parent for purposes of jurisdiction.

The juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in ordering the nonoffending parent to participate in family maintenance services. Mother additionally argued that the court erred in ordering that she and Minors participate in family therapy as she was a nonoffending parent. Once the court has jurisdiction it is authorized to require a nonoffending parent to comply with services as long as there is a nexus between the services ordered and the conditions that gave rise to the jurisdiction finding. Here, the children were at risk due to Father’s domestic violence. The evidence supported an implied finding that Mother did not understand the harm Father’s actions inflicted upon the children because she desired to continue to have a relationship with him. Thus, the court’s order was reasonable and not an abuse of discretion.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: