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Name: In re Grace C.
Case #: A127208
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 12/08/2010
Summary

The court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing dependency jurisdiction despite the mother’s concerns regarding potential problems with visitation. The mother and the legal guardians (the maternal grandmother and great-aunt) had challenges with the visitation schedule due to personal conflicts. After a post-permanency review hearing, the court issued a detailed visitation order and then dismissed dependency jurisdiction. Mother argued on appeal that the problems with visitation constituted exceptional circumstances to continue jurisdiction. After a child has been placed with a relative and appointed a legal guardian for at least 12 months, section 366.3, subdivision (a) requires termination of dependency jurisdiction unless there are exceptional circumstances. The difficulties in agreeing on details of visitation were not exceptional circumstances in light of the court’s detailed visitation order and the evidence presented that the guardians appeared to be supportive of the mother’s relationship with the children. Moreover, since the court retained jurisdiction over the minors as guardian wards, the mother was free to petition for a change in the order if problems arose in the future.
The court did not improperly delegate its authority over the visitation order. The mother argued that the court’s visitation order improperly gave the therapist and legal guardians authority to reduce visitation. The court’s visitation order detailed the frequency and duration of visits while providing a procedure for the therapist to notify the parties if a reduction in visits was to be recommended, and giving the guardians discretion to reduce visitation based on such a recommendation. But, the mother retained the right to petition the juvenile court for relief if visits are reduced without good reason. This arrangement was not a delegation in all authority over visitation.