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Name: In re Kayla W.
Case #: B277567
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 07/26/2017

Juvenile court erred by denying mother standing to participate in dependency hearing regarding minor in probate guardianship. Parents voluntarily petitioned the probate court for a guardianship of the minor Kayla with the maternal grandmother and her husband. Subsequently, Kayla became a dependent of the juvenile court due to domestic violence between the guardians. Mother sought to regain custody of Kayla, and obtained an order from the probate court terminating the legal guardianship. At the disposition hearing in the dependency case, mother presented the court with a copy of the probate order terminating the guardianship. The juvenile court ruled that the probate order was not valid as only the juvenile court had jurisdiction while the dependency case was pending. The juvenile court also found that mother had no standing as a party in the dependency case, and refused to appoint counsel for her. After mother left the courtroom, the juvenile court placed Kayla back with her grandmother and ordered family maintenance services. The appellate court reversed the orders. The juvenile court erred in finding that mother lacked standing to participate in the proceedings, and also erred when it denied her request for appointment of counsel. A parent whose child is in a probate guardianship and whose parental rights have not been terminated qualifies as a noncustodial parent in a dependency proceeding, with the same standing and right to counsel. The error was prejudicial because at a disposition hearing, mother could have argued for removal from the guardians’ custody and for placement with her or visitation. Remand was required for a new disposition hearing for mother to have the opportunity to request custody and visitation with the assistance of appointed counsel.