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Name: In re E.T.
Case #: B243407
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 06/21/2013
Summary

The trial court abused its discretion by placing minor with father who was not a presumed father. Alleged father ended his relationship with mother while she was pregnant with the minor, E.T. He had seen E.T. only a few times since she was born, and was not a presumed father. E.T. was removed from mother based on a petition alleging substance abuse, and placed with father on a family maintenance plan. Mother appealed the order, contending that only presumed fathers are entitled to custody, and that father here never achieved that status. Father contended that the issue was moot because E.T. was subsequently removed from his custody. The appellate court found that the issue was not moot because allowing the order to stand may have consequences in later proceedings. Further, it rejected father’s argument that even though he was not a presumed father, he was entitled to placement under section 361.3, which gives placement preference to relatives. Section 361.3 was not intended to apply to parents. The court further found that placement of E.T. with her father rather than her maternal grandmother, with whom she had previously lived, was an abuse of discretion. Mother also argued that the visitation order, which stated only that the Department was to create a written visitation schedule, failed to sufficiently establish the frequency and duration of mother’s visits. The appellate court agreed and remanded for a new order which addressed frequency and duration of visits.