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Name: In re J.H.
Case #: B229451
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 08/18/2011

The juvenile court erred by failing to order paternity testing of alleged biological father attempting to elevate his status to presumed father. Mother named Tyrone M. as the father of the dependent minor. She admitted she was legally married to another man at the time of the minor’s birth, and that Tyrone had not been present for the birth nor signed the birth certificate. Tyrone claimed he had held out the minor as his own, supported mother, and cared for the minor. Tyrone requested DNA testing, but it was not ordered. Meanwhile, mother’s husband, George, also requested to be named the presumed father of the minor. At a paternity hearing, mother claimed that Tyrone was the biological father of the minor. The juvenile court found Tyrone to be an alleged biological father, and mother’s husband George to be the presumed father. On appeal Tyrone contended that the juvenile court violated his right to due process by denying him the opportunity to elevate his status to presumed father. The appellate court disagreed, finding that the juvenile court provided Tyrone an opportunity to attempt to change his status from alleged to presumed father. He had a hearing on paternity and was appointed counsel. Further, substantial evidence supported the juvenile court’s presumed father findings. However, the juvenile court should have determined whether Tyrone was the minor’s biological father. Mother’s husband was in prison for domestic violence against mother and was not expected to be released prior to the end of any possible reunification period. The juvenile court’s failure to determine whether he had another biological relative (Tyrone) who could care for him was not a harmless error.