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Name: In re E.T.
Case #: A153896
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 12/12/2018

Termination of parental rights reversed where minors had a substantial attachment to mother which outweighed the benefits of a plan of adoption. Mother had a substantial bond with the minors and visited them as often as she was permitted during the dependency proceedings. She spoke with them on the phone when she could not visit them. The minors had spent two years in mother’s custody, followed by two years with their godparents. Although mother was denied services, she continued to participate in programs to help maintain her sobriety and make her a better parent. She had a new baby in her custody. The minors were very tied to mother and were sometimes sad after visits. The juvenile court terminated mother’s parental rights and denied her motion to modify, finding that although the minors were tied to mother, it was not to such an extent that they couldn’t be happy with their godparents. The appellate court reversed the order terminating parental rights. The standard is not whether the minors could be happy with their godparents but whether the minors benefit from mother’s presence in their lives. There was no question the minors had a substantial and positive attachment to mother such that terminating their familial relationship would cause them great harm. Even if she did not ultimately regain custody, she should not be excluded from the children’s lives. The court cannot terminate parental rights based upon an unenforceable expectation that the prospective adoptive parents would voluntarily permit future contact. As such, mother met her burden of showing a beneficial relationship.