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Name: In re L.B.
Case #: A165001
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 02/16/2023

There was sufficient evidence to support jurisdictional findings where the parents’ custody order was insufficient to protect the minor and this was not the only basis for jurisdiction. The minor was removed from Mother due to domestic violence with the father of Minor’s younger siblings and Mother’s mental and physical health, including substance abuse. The minor had been residing with Father prior to removal. Mother had sent him to live with Father because of the domestic violence in her home. The custody order provided for the minor to spend the summer with Father and the school year with Mother. Following detention, the minor was left in the care of Father. After a contested jurisdiction and disposition hearing, the juvenile court found true section 300, subdivision (b) allegations and removed the minor from Mother’s custody. The court dismissed the dependency, granting sole physical custody to Father, with joint legal custody to both parents, and supervised visitation to Mother. The appellate court affirmed the orders. Mother argued on appeal that recent changes to section 300 made the jurisdiction finding untenable. Effective January 1, 2022, section 300, subdivision (b)(1) was amended to include the following language: “A child shall not be found to be a person described by this subdivision solely due to the failure of the child’s parent or alleged parent to seek court orders for custody of the child.” Based on the plain language of the statute, this new provision only applies when the child is described by section 300 solely due to the failure of a parent to seek custody orders.  Here, the lack of appropriate custody orders was only one of many factors placing the minor at risk, and thus the recently amended section 300 is not relevant. The custody orders in place at the time of jurisdiction allowed Mother to remove the minor from Father’s care and Mother’s behavior and denial of domestic violence in her home created a risk to the minor if she did so.