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Name: In re E.M.
Case #: B230446
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 03/19/2012
Summary

Mother’s right to appeal was forfeited where she left the country with the children while the petition was pending. The Department filed a petition alleging that the three minors were in danger due to their father’s sexual abuse of his stepdaughter. Prior to the adjudication hearing, mother absconded to Mexico with the children at the same time that father fled there, thereby avoiding any supervision by or protection from the DCFS. The juvenile court found that continued juvenile court jurisdiction was necessary. Mother appealed, and DCFS contended that mother was barred from pursuing her appeal under the doctrine of disentitlement. The appellate court agreed and dismissed the appeal. Mother forfeited her right to appeal because she willfully left the jurisdiction with her children while the petition was pending, and even though a warrant for her arrest was recalled, her continued absence from the court’s jurisdiction undermined and frustrated the court’s ability to protect the children and act in their best interests. Under the circumstances there was an adequate basis for determining that mother’s conduct was sufficiently egregious to warrant the application of the doctrine of disentitlement.