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Name: In re Claudia E.
Case #: D052169
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 06/02/2008

Declaratory relief was available where the department had a practice of failing to comply with statutory deadlines for filing petitions. The minors sought declaratory relief after the department twice removed them from their mother without timely filing petitions under section 387. The trial court denied the minors relief, ruling that they had not exhausted their remedies. The appellate court reversed the motion denying relief, holding that the juvenile court erred by refusing to consider the motion for an invalid reason. Declaratory relief is available in juvenile court if there is an actual controversy between the parties as required under the law. Minor’s counsel sought relief because the supplemental petition was not filed until a week after the children were removed in one instance, and four days after removal in the second instance. Since the department conceded that the supplemental petitions here were untimely filed, there was no actual controversy. However, minor’s counsel alleged that the department had a policy of filing supplemental petitions in a tardy fashion. This constitutes an actual controversy, and remand was required for further proceeding.