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Name: In re D.Y.
Case #: B287849
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 09/06/2018

Juvenile court was not obligated to retain dependency jurisdiction when the legal guardian objected to termination, but it was error to terminate jurisdiction without adequate notice to the parties. The minor D.Y. was placed under the legal guardianship of his grandmother in 2001 when he was an infant. The court retained dependency jurisdiction over the minor for the next 16 years, with review hearings every six months. In late 2017, the juvenile court terminated dependency jurisdiction over the objections of the minor, his grandmother, and the Department. The court also denied the minor’s request for a continuance in order to provide additional information concerning his educational and orthodontic issues, and to be present for a contested hearing regarding the termination. On appeal, D.Y. challenged the termination of jurisdiction, contending that it was prohibited by Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.3(a) because of the guardian’s objections. He also argued that the court abused its discretion by denying the continuance. The appellate court rejected the contention that since the grandmother objected to the guardianship, it was mandatory for the juvenile court to retain jurisdiction. The court may terminate dependency jurisdiction, or choose to retain dependency jurisdiction as the best interest of the minor dictates. Restricting the court’s discretion at the behest of the legal guardian and without consideration of the child’s best interest would undermine the juvenile court’s special responsibility to the child. However, the juvenile court abused its discretion when it denied the request for continuance. Good cause was present here because even the Department’s counsel conceded that the report was incomplete. A short continuance would have remedied the issue and permitted the court to fully exercise its discretion. Also, the lack of notice to both the minor and his guardian that jurisdiction might be terminated at the hearing was an even more compelling reason. It was an abuse of discretion to abruptly terminate jurisdiction without alerting all of the interested parties to that possibility.