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Name: In re Alexander P.
Case #: A146040
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 07/29/2009
Subsequent History: Rehearing granted 8/23/2016

Juvenile court erred when it found that it was bound by paternity decisions made in the family court after the filing of the dependency petition. The three-year-old minor was the subject of a dependency petition filed following domestic violence between his mother and stepfather. At the time of the petition, the minor’s paternity was the subject of two competing motions filed in family court by two other men: the minor’s biological father (Joel) and the man mother was living with at the time of the minor’s birth (Michael). Two weeks after the filing of the dependency petition, the family court ruled that both Michael and Joel qualify as presumed fathers under Family Code section 7612, subdivision (c). In the initial dependency proceedings, all three men sought to be declared presumed fathers, Michael and Joel under the family court order, and stepfather because he had served in the role of the minor’s father for the 20 months prior to the dependency proceeding. The juvenile court found all three men presumed fathers, and stated that it considered itself bound by the family court orders involving Michael and Joel. The minor and Michael appealed the designation of stepfather as the presumed parent, and several other parties appealed the designation of Michael as a presumed father. The appellate court found that the juvenile court erred in finding Michael and Joel presumed parents. Welfare and institutions Code section 316.2 grants exclusive jurisdiction over paternity issues to the juvenile court upon the filing of a dependency petition. The family court order, made after the juvenile dependency petition was filed, was void. The designation of Michael and Joel was vacated and the case was remanded to the juvenile court for an independent determination of the paternity issues. There was no error in the designation of stepfather as presumed father.