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Name: In re H.C.
Case #: D072368
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 12/04/2017

Eighteen-year-old nonminor’s marriage did not prevent her from receiving services in an extended foster care program. After H.C. turned 18, the juvenile court continued H.C.’s dependency case as a nonminor dependent in extended foster care. She was residing in an approved placement, and was pregnant. She believed her abusive boyfriend Alonzo to be the baby’s father. Six months later, the Agency discovered that H.C. had married Alonzo and was living with him. The Agency set a special hearing to request that the juvenile court terminate H.C.’s dependency case, arguing that her marriage made her ineligible to participate in extended foster care. H.C. opposed termination, and her attorney argued that nothing in the applicable statutes prohibits a married nonminor from participating in extended foster care and continuing as a nonminor dependent. The juvenile court terminated jurisdiction and H.C. appealed. The appellate court reversed the juvenile court’s order. None of the relevant statutes mention marriage. Marriage does not prevent a nonminor dependent from participating in a transitional independent living plan or receiving services. The Agency also argued, in the alternative, that H.C. did not seek approval of her new residence with Alonzo and that the residence would not have been approved, based on Alonzo’s alleged history of abuse. However, the appellate court cannot make the determination for the first time on appeal that the juvenile court should have terminated the dependency case not because of H.C.’s marriage, but because of her alleged failure to comply with the requirements of the extended foster care program. Therefore, reversal is required in order to give H.C. the opportunity to demonstrate her compliance with the requirements of the program under the proper legal standards.