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Name: In re Celine R.
Case #: F040063
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 09/30/2002
Subsequent History: Rev. granted 12/18/02: S111138

Three minor siblings appealed the termination of parental rights based on the denial of their request for a bonding study to evaluate the sibling bonds between them, and the denial of their attorney’s request to be relieved of representation for all three minors, as there was a conflict of interest. The eldest sibling was seven and was found to be not adoptable. She was placed separately from her younger, adoptable siblings. Counsel for the minors requested the bonding study because the elder sibling had a bond with the younger siblings. Counsel did not argue that the young siblings shared the same bond. Here, the appellate court found that the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion by failing to order the bonding study. The sibling exception under Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.26, subdivision (c)(1)(E) was applicable only to the younger siblings who were the subject of the termination hearing. Termination was not detrimental to the younger siblings, and counsel argued only that it would be detrimental to the older sibling, whose permanent plan was long-term foster care. Further, the court did not err by failing to relieve counsel of representation of all three siblings. Any possible error was harmless, since counsel argued against termination. Therefore, the older sibling’s interest was adequately represented, and the younger siblings were not prejudiced because termination and adoption were ordered.