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Name: In re Aiden G.
Case #: B248092
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 10/16/2013

There was insufficient evidence to support a dependency petition where mother was mentally ill, but father was properly caring for minors. A dependency petition alleged the children fell within Welfare and Institutions Code section 300, subdivision (b) based on mother’s mental illness. Mother was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and suffered from paranoia, mood disturbance, and hallucinations. However, father’s ability to safely care for the children was not questioned. Mother’s time with the children was always supervised, father moved out of the family home to ensure the children’s safety, and he sought a court order limiting mother to supervised visits. Based on mother’s mental illness, the juvenile court assumed jurisdiction and adjudged the children dependents but then granted father sole custody and terminated its jurisdiction. Mother appealed, contending insufficient evidence supported the assumption of jurisdiction. The appellate court agreed. Although mother was mentally ill and unable to care for the minors, the juvenile court should not have sustained the petition because father was and had always been capable of caring for the children. The juvenile court should have dismissed the petition, staying the order until father obtained an award of custody in the family court. Since the matter belonged in the family court, there was no reason for the juvenile court’s adjudication and dispositional orders.