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Name: In re J.P.
Case #: H046491
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 07/26/2019
Summary

Juvenile court has discretion to order visitation between nonparent and a child where it is in the child’s best interest. J.P and his younger half-brother were taken into custody following mother’s arrest for driving under the influence. Mother’s ex-boyfriend Albert was the younger minor’s biological father. He was not J.P.’s biological father, but he wanted to legally adopt him. J.P’s biological father had no contact with him. At the six-month review hearing, the minors were returned to mother. Albert had been visiting both minors, and the children had a bonded relationship with him. Following a hearing, the juvenile court held that Albert did not qualify to be J.P.’s presumed parent. Albert requested visitation with J.P., which mother opposed. The Department supported the visitation order because the minors had been visiting Albert together, and J.P. had a bond with Albert. The court concluded that it was in J.P.’s best interest to have visitation with Albert, and ordered weekly visitation when his half-brother was also visiting. On appeal, mother argued that the juvenile court abused its discretion by ordering visitation between J.P. and Albert. Mother contended that Albert was not a presumed parent, de facto parent, or NREFM seeking to be considered for placement. Alternatively, mother argued that even if the juvenile court could order visitation for a nonparent, it was inappropriate under the circumstances of this case. The appellate court rejected the argument and affirmed the visitation order. Although there are no statutes that directly authorize the juvenile court to make such orders, the visitation order was within the juvenile court’s power to make reasonable orders. There is nothing precluding the juvenile court from ordering visitation if it is reasonably related to J.P.’s care and is in his best interest. Here, the record reflected that the juvenile court expressly determined that visits between Albert and J.P. were in J.P.’s best interest, and this finding was supported by evidence in the record. J.P. had a bond with Albert and had called him “daddy.” The visitation reports showed that J.P. was comfortable with Albert and that Albert was actively involved with both minors. There was sufficient evidence supporting the juvenile court’s determination that ordering visits with Albert would be in J.P.’s best interest, and therefore there was no abuse of discretion.