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Name: In re Mark L.
Case #: D037827
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 12/13/2001
Subsequent History: None

The appellate court here affirmed an order denying visitation where the trial court’s finding that visitation would be detrimental to the minor was supported by substantial evidence. The minor was twelve years old and did not want to visit with his father, and said he was afraid of him, even in a supervised setting. The fact that the minor did not want to visit was sufficient to show that forced contact could harm him emotionally. However, father was prejudiced at the twelve month review hearing by the refusal of the trial court to allow the minor’s therapist to testify concerning any progress or changed circumstances which might have made visitation appropriate. The psychotherapist-patient privilege protected the minor’s confidential communications but did not preclude the therapist from giving circumscribed information which would have assisted the court. Further, there was insufficient evidence that father received reasonable services between the six and twelve month review hearings, because neither visitation nor conjoint therapy could be recommended without the input of the therapist, who was not allowed to give his input. Therefore, the case should not have been referred to a permanency planning hearing, and remand for an additional six months of reunification services was required.