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Name: In re Jason J.
Case #: D054188
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 07/09/2009
Summary

No finding of unfitness was required to terminate the biological father’s rights. The minors were removed from their mother and her boyfriend, and parental rights were eventually terminated for the mother and the biological father. Father appealed, contending that he is a father within the meaning of Adoption of Kelsey S. (1992) 1 Cal.4th 816, and that the court violated his due process rights by terminating his parental rights without ever making an express finding of unfitness. In the alternative, he argued that the court cannot terminate a biological father’s rights absent a finding of unfitness. The appellate court rejected both arguments. The father forfeited the issue concerning his status as a Kelsey S. father by raising it for the first time on appeal. Even without forfeiture, the argument lacks merit because there was no evidence he promptly stepped forward to assume any parental responsibilities such as financial support. Because the facts showed that he was a mere biological father, the court was not required to make a particularized finding of unfitness prior to terminating his parental rights. The appellate court also rejected the father’s claim that the beneficial-relationship exception applied. A friendly relationship is not enough to outweigh the sense of security and belonging an adoptive home would provide.