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Name: In re Henry V.
Case #: A103586
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 06/15/2004

Mother appealed from a dispositional order maintaining her son in out-of-home placement. She contended that there was no clear and convincing evidence that the minor would be substantially endangered if returned home, or that there were no means of protecting him other than removal from parental custody. The appellate court here agreed and reversed. Not only was the evidence insufficient, but it was impossible to tell whether the court had applied the correct standard. The minor suffered a single incident of abuse. The trial court explicitly premised the out-of-home placement on the need to complete a bonding study. There was no evidence that this could not have been done while the minor was at home, and no evidence that there was a threat to the minor’s safety or well-being. The court did not mention the alternatives to out-of-home placement, and there was ample evidence that services could have been provided while the minor was at home. A mere finding of parental abuse does not sever the bond between parent and child, nor require out-of-home placement absent the requisite clear and convincing evidence of substantial danger to the minor.