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Name: In re A.M.
Case #: A136436
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 07/10/2013

Order granting reunification services is reversed where juvenile court did not make requisite findings under section 361.5, subdivision (c) after infant minor suffered serious injuries inflicted by Mother’s boyfriend. The infant minor and his sibling were removed after doctors found the infant had several bone fractures which doctors believed were non-accidentally inflicted by a series of violent acts. The parents were the only caretakers of the baby but both professed ignorance as to the cause of the injuries. A petition was sustained, and parents were denied services pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 361.5, subdivision (b). A few months later, Mother successfully sought a modification of the order denying services because she had obtained a restraining order against father, and had attended parenting classes and counseling. The juvenile court explained that the change in circumstances was that mother was taking classes to better herself and that it believed that services could result in reunification. The Department and the minors’ attorney appealed the grant of reunification services, contending that there was insufficient evidence to support the order and that it was based on an incorrect legal standard. The appellate court agreed and reversed the order. The juvenile court failed to observe the restrictions of section 361.5, subdivision (c) in granting services to mother. Subdivision (c) prohibits a grant of services with respect to minors who are detained under section 300, subdivision (e) unless it is found that services are likely to prevent reabuse or that failure to reunify will be detrimental to the child. The court did not make the required finding, nor was there any evidence to support such a finding.