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Name: In re D.B.
Case #: B298750
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 04/30/2020

Substantial evidence supported a true finding on a section 300, subdivision (c) petition where father’s violent, aggressive, and racist conduct caused emotional damage to the minor. Parents separated after acts of domestic violence by father. Father tried to instigate arguments with mother and was verbally aggressive. He called mother names, disparaged her, and made racial remarks about her Central American culture. Father also verbally abused the minor, calling her a liar, telling her she was fat and would grow up to be a loser like her mother. He forced the minor to ride a stationary bike for an hour. The minor was depressed and overwhelmed by father’s actions, and fearful of what he would do. When she returned from visits with her father, she was so nervous her hands were shaking. The minor said there was no way she would live with her father because he made her “hysterical.” She wrote to the court that father “does nothing but make me stressed out, insecure, miserable and sad.” The Department filed a petition pursuant to section 300, subdivision (c). At a contested hearing, father could not restrain himself and made angry comments despite being instruct to stop talking. The court found the petition true, terminated jurisdiction, and awarded full custody of the minor to mother. Father was permitted monitored visits upon completion of counseling, which included joint counseling. The appellate court affirmed the orders. Five factors support the court’s finding of a risk of serious emotional damage to the minor: verbal abuse, violence, racism, impulsivity, and lack of insight. The combination of factors created substantial evidence that the minor suffered “severe anxiety” which was evidence of a “substantial risk” the minor would suffer serious emotional damage. The evidence supported the court’s assertion of jurisdiction.

The juvenile court also properly terminated jurisdiction over the minor at disposition. Substantial evidence showed that the minor was safe with mother, and that since she had ceased visiting father, her emotional health had improved. There was no evidence that either mother or father would stop complying with court orders if the court closed the case. Further, the visitation order did not impermissibly restrict the family court’s power to modify custody or visitation, or grant the minor veto power over the visits by refusing joint counseling. If the minor refuses to cooperate with the monitored visitations, father would be entitled to seek modification of the order in family court.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: