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Name: In re Mary B.
Case #: D063372
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 07/30/2013

Father was properly denied placement where there was a showing that he disobeyed court orders, continued to engage in domestic violence, and allowed unauthorized visits with mother. Father obtained custody of the minor following termination of dependency jurisdiction in 2009. Mother was given supervised visitation. Following termination of jurisdiction, Father gave minor back to Mother. In 2011, Father was arrested for the second time for domestic violence against Mother. The Department filed a petition alleging that the parents were residing together and that minor had been exposed to a violent confrontation between them. The petition was found true and the minor was removed and placed in foster care. At the six-month review hearing, the Department recommended return of the minor to Father. During the hearing, Father moved for a directed verdict, but the court denied the motion. The hearing was continued several times, and the Department was allowed to reopen its case in chief to present new evidence that Father had been allowing unauthorized overnight visits with Mother and that his aggressive behavior was escalating. It now recommended that the minor remain in foster care. The court followed that recommendation, and Father appealed. The appellate court found that there was no error in the denial of Father’s directed verdict motion, nor was it error for the court to grant the continuance motions or to allow the Department to reopen its case in chief. Further, there was substantial evidence to support the juvenile court’s finding that returning minor to her father posed a risk of detriment. There was substantial evidence that Father and Mother continued to engage in domestic violence in minor’s presence, and failed to comply with court orders. Further, Father’s therapist questioned Father’s credibility regarding his involvement in services. While Father exhibited some positive changes, it was too early to say whether he had actually changed, and the safety of the minor was paramount. The evidence amply supported the detriment finding.