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Name: In re A.S.
Case #: D054951
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 12/17/2009
Summary

The father’s rights were not violated by termination of parental rights absent a finding of unfitness. Father did not appear at the detention, jurisdiction, or disposition hearings, and told the social worker that he was not in a position to care for the minor children, who were removed from the mother. Following the birth of another child, the father could not be located. The children were placed back with their mother. Following the removal of the children on a 387 petition, services were terminated and a 366.26 hearing was set. The father filed a 388 petition seeking services, which was denied. In an appeal from the denial of the 388 petition, the father argued that the court erred when it did not conduct an evidentiary hearing because when the court determined that he was the presumed father, he was entitled to custody or reunification services, absent a finding of detriment. The appellate court rejected the argument, finding first that the issues were not raised in the 388 petition. To the extent that the issues were not forfeited, the court did not abuse its discretion because the father did not establish that he was able to provide the children a placement. He sought only to continue the dependency proceedings, which had been initiated 36 months earlier. Further, there was no showing that a delay in permanency was in the children’s best interests. The father also contended that he was denied due process because his parental rights were terminated absent a finding of unfitness or a finding of detriment. The court, disagreeing with Gladys L., rejected the argument, finding that the court may assume jurisdiction over the child based on the acts or omissions of one parent. A sustained section 300 petition as to each parent is not a required precursor to termination of parental rights. Therefore, the father’s due process rights were not violated when the court terminated his parental rights without making an initial finding that his acts or omissions brought his children within section 300.