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Name: In re Frank R.
Case #: B222837
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 02/03/2011

A finding of unfitness or detriment is required prior to terminating parental rights. The minors were removed from the mother because of physical abuse. The nonoffending father did not want reunification services and did not seek custody of the minors because he was living in a motel. Both parents’ parental rights were terminated over the father’s objection. The appellate court reversed, finding that due process requires a finding of unfitness or detriment by clear and convincing evidence, and here the court never made the requisite finding as to the father. A jurisdictional finding is not an adequate finding of parental fitness because it is made by a preponderance of evidence. Although there may have been valid bases for the juvenile court to make a finding of parental unfitness, here the court never made that finding by a clear and convincing standard. Such a finding cannot be inferred. Reversal and remand was required to determine whether such a finding can be made.