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Name: In re C.B.
Case #: H035085
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 11/18/2010

The court may not find that a parent-child relationship exception does not exist based on an unenforceable promise of adoptive parents to continue visitation. In an appeal from parental rights termination, mother contended that the juvenile court erred by finding that the parent-child relationship exception did not apply, because the children had lived with her for many years, missed her, were excited to see her, and had a positive substantial relationship with her. There was no dispute that the minors wanted continued contact with mother. The appellate court found that remand was required. The juvenile court injected an improper factor into the weighing process, which was the adoptive parents’ willingness to allow continued contact with mother. Once the relationship is severed, a parent has no legal protection if the contact is disallowed. If the juvenile court determined that the parent has maintained regular visitation and contact and there is a substantial positive emotional attachment and the benefit of continuing that relationship promotes the well-being of the child to the extent that it outweighs the benefits of adoption, the parent-child relationship is established. The court cannot nevertheless terminate parental rights based on an unenforceable promise to continue contact. The court also rejected the sibling-exception argument because the juvenile court could reasonably have concluded that even if adoption would interfere with the minors’ relationship with their older sister, the benefit of continuing the relationship was outweighed by the benefit of adoption. Remand was also required for failure to adequately notice the Seneca tribes.