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Name: In re Donovan L., Jr.
Case #: D068304
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 02/11/2016

The juvenile court erred when it found that minor had more than two parents under section 7612, subdivision (c), where the biological father did not have a strong relationship with the minor. Mother was married to Donovan when she conceived minor DJ. However, mother had an affair with David during the marriage, and told David that she was pregnant. David did not seek any involvement until he saw one-year-old DJ and saw that DJ looked like him. He took a paternity test on his own initiative and determined that he was DJ’s biological father. He told friends and family he was DJ’s father, and had a few visits with him. The Department got involved with the family due to mother’s substance abuse. Donovan was named DJ’s presumed father. The third time the Department got involved with the family, the minor was removed from mother and placed with Donovan, provided mother move out of the home. David appeared at the disposition hearing and requested presumed father status under section 7611, subdivision (d). The court found that under section 7612, subdivision (c), DJ would suffer detriment if the court found he had only two parents, relying heavily on the biological connection between the two, but noted that David did not have a strong relationship with the child. Mother and Donovan appealed. The appellate court reversed the findings. David was not barred under equitable principles from seeking presumed father status. However, this was not an appropriate action to recognize three parents under section 7612, subdivision (c). Because the juvenile court determined that DJ did not have a strong relationship with David, there was no substantial evidence to support the finding that recognizing only two parents would be detrimental to the child.