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Name: In re Alexandria P.
Case #: B252999
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 08/15/2014
Summary

Good cause to deviate from ICWA placement preferences did not require a showing with certainty that the child would suffer harm by transferring placement. The minor, an Indian child, was removed from her parents at the age of 17 months. Her tribe consented to placement with a non-Indian foster family in order to facilitate reunification with her father. She remained with the de facto parents for two and a half years and became bonded to the family. When reunification efforts with her father failed, the Department recommended placement with her father’s relatives in Utah. The de facto parents argued that there was good cause to depart from the ICWA’s placement preferences. The juvenile court ordered the minor placed with the extended family, finding that the de facto parents failed to prove “by clear and convincing evidence that it was a certainty the child would suffer emotional harm by the transfer.” The appellate court reversed and remanded for a new hearing. The trial court erred in interpreting the meaning of the term “good cause.” The de facto parents were not required to show a certainty that the minor would suffer harm. The court did not properly consider the bond between the minor and her foster family. It also failed to consider the minor’s best interests as part of its good cause determination. Remand was required to determine if good cause exists to deviate from the ICWA’s adoptive placement preferences under the correct standard, and considering current circumstances.