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Name: In re Autumn H.
Case #: D020708
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 08/08/1994
Subsequent History: Review den. 10/27/94

Welf. & Inst. Code section 366.26, subd. (c)(1)(A)’s exception to the preferred plan of adoption is not unconstitutionally vague, and requires that the parent’s relationship with the minor promotes the well-being of the minor to the degree that it outweighs the benefits of a permanent adoptive home.

Although Welf. & Inst. Code section 366.26, subd. (c)(1)(A), which allows a court to forego the preferred permanent plan of adoption where a parent has maintained regular visitation and the minor would benefit from continuing the parental relationship, does not define benefit, it is not unconstitutionally vague, nor does it give the trial court unreasonable discretion. “Benefit from the continuing relationship” means that the relationship with the child promotes the well-being of the child to the extent that it outweighs the benefits the child would gain in a permanent home with adoptive parents. The exception applies only where the court finds that regular contact has developed such a significant and positive emotional attachment such that the child would be greatly harmed by severing the relationship. The exception must be examined on a case-by-case basis and may take into consideration the age of the child, the portion of his life spent with the parents, the interactions between parent and child, and the child’s particular needs. Here, the court properly concluded that no exception to adoption existed because the minor viewed her father as a “friendly visitor,” the minor was bonded to the foster family and would suffer if the placement were disrupted, and the minor had a greater than average need for a structured home environment which father could not provide.