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Name: In re Baby Girl M.
Case #: D046838
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 01/27/2006

Father’s parental rights were terminated under Family Code section 7825, which authorizes parental rights termination when a parent has been convicted of a felony the facts of which “are of such a nature as to prove the unfitness of the parent” to have future custody or control of the child. Father’s felony convictions in this case were burglary, attempted burglary, drug possession, and an extensive misdemeanor record. On appeal, father contended that termination of parental rights is not authorized by section 7825 absent some facts underlying the felony conviction, as opposed to the mere existence of the conviction, prove parental unfitness. The appellate court here agreed and reversed. The legislative history of the statute clearly demonstrates that the Legislature intended that section 7825 apply to terminate parental rights only where a parent’s unfitness is demonstrated by the facts underlying the conviction. Where, as here, the parent’s unfitness is called into question by facts other than those underlying the conviction, the Legislature intended that courts would apply other statutory provisions relating to child welfare which contain more gradual termination procedures and include procedural safeguards absent from section 7825.