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Name: In re C.M.
Case #: D072056
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 09/15/2017
Summary

A conditional removal order was reversed where it failed to afford parent due process prior to removal of the child. The Agency filed a petition alleging that the minor was at substantial risk of harm resulting from physical abuse by his stepfather and domestic violence between mother and stepfather. The court sustained the petition and issued a restraining order, restraining stepfather from having any contact with the minor. The court placed the minor with mother and ordered the Agency to remove the minor if they received evidence that the restraining order was violated or the minor had any exposure to stepfather. On appeal, mother challenged the conditional removal order, contending that the order changed the legal standards for removal. The appellate court agreed with mother and reversed, holding that the juvenile court may only direct the Agency to take such immediate action as is authorized by law and fact. The conditional removal order here contravened specific statutory requirements for notice and the opportunity to be heard, the burden and standard of proof, and the factual findings required to remove a dependent child from his parent’s custody. Although the court could warn mother about the potential legal consequences of violating the restraining order, it could not disregard the dependency scheme, which guarantees due process to both the child and the parent.