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Name: In re Ethan J.
Case #: F070114
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 05/06/2015

Dismissal of dependency jurisdiction was reversed where minor refused to participate in visits with mother and court made no finding that visitation would be detrimental to him. The minor, Ethan, was in a guardianship with his grandmother, and refused to visit his mother, Monica. He also refused to participate in a therapeutic evaluation to determine whether visitation would be detrimental. At the conclusion of a contested review hearing, the juvenile court terminated dependency jurisdiction, stating that there was nothing it could do about the continued refusal of the minor to participate in visitation. On appeal, mother contended that the juvenile court abused its discretion when it terminated dependency jurisdiction. The appellate court agreed and reversed the order terminating jurisdiction. Where the juvenile court orders a legal guardianship at the permanency planning hearing, it must make an order for visitation with the parents unless the court finds a preponderance of evidence that the visitation will be detrimental to the child. If the court orders visitation, it must ensure that at least some visitation will occur. Here, when the juvenile court ordered the dismissal of dependency jurisdiction, it did so without having made a detriment finding, and with foreknowledge that its visitation order was not going to be honored. If Ethan continued to refuse visitation, Monica had no effective recourse. Absent a finding of detriment, Ethan’s refusal to visit Monica constituted an exceptional circumstance under section 366.3(a), and warranted ongoing dependency jurisdiction.