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Name: In re L.D. et al
Case #: C062388
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/09/2010

Termination of parental rights was upheld where father’s failure to contact or support minors constituted abandonment. Mother took the minor children and left father in 2000. Father contended that he visited the minors as often as possible after that, but that mother “thwarted” visitation, and there had been a restraining order forbidding contact for some of the time. Mother and the minors’ stepfather petitioned to terminate father’s parental rights and for adoption of the minors by the stepfather. Father claimed he did not leave the minors and did not intend to abandon them. The court terminated father’s rights on the ground of abandonment under Family Code section 7822. The court found that until 2006, father never took the steps necessary to meet the requirements for visitation. The appellate court affirmed the juvenile court’s order. It rejected father’s contention that the trial court erred when it determined that the circumstances surrounding how the children came into mother’s sole custody were irrelevant to the abandonment issue. Although mother took the minors and left home, that was not the point at which father abandoned them. Father, by his inaction, abandoned the minors after that time by his failure to contact them. Father made no effort to comply with conditions that would have allowed him contact with the minors, did not provide for support, or seek a parental relationship with them. He did not pay child support until his wages were garnished. This inaction was substantial evidence that father voluntarily surrendered the parental role and left the minors within the meaning of section 7822. Father did not rebut the presumption that he abandoned the minors.