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Name: In re Damian L.
Case #: F083805
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 04/11/2023

Juvenile court erred in ordering additional services to Mother at the section 387 disposition hearing because she had already received over 24 months of services. The minors were taken into custody and Family Maintenance (FM) services were ordered for Mother. Following a positive drug test by Mother, the minors were removed and placed with maternal grandmother. Family Reunification (FR) services were ordered for Mother. A few months later, a section 387 petition was filed to remove the minors from maternal grandmother. At the combined section 387 disposition/24-month review hearing, the juvenile court found that the reunification timeline does not run when a minor is placed with a parent at disposition and ordered additional reunification services to Mother. The Agency appealed the juvenile court’s ruling. During the pendency of the appeal, the juvenile court ordered the minors returned to Mother’s custody and dismissed the case. The Court of Appeal reversed and vacated the order continuing Mother’s reunification services. Although the appeal was moot, the reviewing court found that the issue raised in the appeal is capable of repetition and thus, chose to reach the merits of the issue. A minor’s detention pending a jurisdictional hearing is considered a removal from parental custody for purposes of section 361.5, subdivision (a) and the minor’s return to a parent’s custody at the disposition hearing does not toll the maximum time period for reunification services. Thus, the statutory timelines begin when a minor is ordered removed at the detention hearing and periods for reunification services and timing of review hearings are to be determined relative to initial removal, not the length of previous services or review hearings. The deadline set once a child is initially removed does not reset if the parent regains custody at some point during the time period. When a minor is removed from one parent and placed with a non-custodial parent, the calculation may be different. When a juvenile court sustains a supplemental petition pursuant to section 387, reunification efforts should resume if the parent has received less than 12 months of either FM or FR services, if the parent did not receive reasonable services, or if there is a substantial probability the child will be returned within 18 months of the date of original removal. Here, the juvenile court erred when it ordered additional reunification services as Mother had already received 26 months of services, well over the 18-month limit.

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