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Name: In re Paul H.
Case #: C043023
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 08/26/2003
Subsequent History: None
Summary

Appellant appeared for the first time at the jurisdictional hearing and indicated he might be the minor’s father. The court did not order paternity testing, and did not appoint counsel for appellant, but advised him instead to go establish his paternity. Appellant attempted unsuccessfully to get assistance from the Department in obtaining testing. At the section 366.26 hearing, appellant gave the court a packet of documents which logged his efforts to obtain paternity testing. The court terminated appellant’s parental rights. The appellate court here reversed. The juvenile court failed to comply with the provisions of Welf and Inst. Code section 316.2 and Rule 1413, and under the circumstances here, that noncompliance compelled reversal. Appellant had standing as an alleged father, because he appeared and asserted his position. He attempted to complete paternity testing. Appellant had a right to a court trial to determine paternity and the right to be represented by counsel at such a trial, and a right to notice of these rights. Here, there was no evidence that appellant was advised of these rights, nor evidence that the Department provided the court with any information concerning his circumstances. It cannot be assumed that had appellant established paternity and been appointed counsel, he would not have received reunification services. Therefore, appellant was prejudiced by the court’s failure to follow the required procedures.