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Name: In re Alexandria P.
Case #: B270775
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 07/08/2016

Where de facto parents did not prove good cause to warrant departure from ICWA placement preferences, the order removing minor from their custody and placing her with Indian relatives was affirmed. After the Indian minor Alexandria was removed from her parents, the tribe consented to the minor’s placement with a non-Indian foster family to facilitate efforts to reunify the girl with her father. She was placed with the de facto parents at the age of two. She bonded with the family and had thrived for two and a half years. After reunification efforts failed, the court ordered the minor placed with extended family in Utah after finding that the de facto parents had not proven by clear and convincing evidence that the child would suffer emotional harm by the transfer. In the first appeal, the appellate court stayed that order and reversed for the trial court to determine the appropriate standard. Upon remand, the trial court again concluded that the de facto parents had not proven good cause by clear and convincing evidence. In a second appeal, the appellate court reversed and remanded to the trial court to resolve the issue of placement. The trial court concluded that the de facto parents had not shown good cause to depart from the ICWA’s placement preferences, and ordered the minor removed from their custody and placed with the relatives. The de facto parents appealed a third time. The appellate court in this opinion affirmed the order finding no good cause to depart from the ICWA’s adoptive placement preferences and directed the minor to be placed with her relatives. The child’s best interest is only one of the factors the court should take into account when determining good cause. Here, the court considered the bonds the minor had with both the de facto parents and the relatives, and the ability of both sets of parents to maintain her tribal identity. The evidence and testimony taken together provided substantial evidence to support the court’s decision that the de facto parents did not carry their burden of proving good cause to depart from the ICWA preferences.