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Name: In re Amber M.
Case #: D039220
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 11/12/2002
Subsequent History: None

An order terminating parental rights was reversed where the trial court erred by failing to find the children would benefit from a continued relationship with their mother. The eldest child had been in the care of mother most of her life, and another more than half of his life. The psychologist who performed the bonding study concluded that the children shared a primary attachment to mother which would be detrimental to sever, even though the detriment would be mitigated by the fact that the children were with extended family. The eldest minor’s therapist also believed that she had a strong bond with mother and that the relationship should continue. The middle child’s CASA testified that he shared a strong bond with his mother, though he shared a strong bond with his grandfather (the potential adoptive parent) as well. The common theme running through the evidence was a beneficial parental relationship that clearly outweighed the benefit of adoption. The trial court inappropriately focused on mother’s current inability to provide a home for the children and the grandparents’ ability to do so, as opposed to the long-term effects on the children of terminating parental rights. Therefore, reversal and remand were required for a new 366.26 hearing which must include a finding on whether the exception has been demonstrated.