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Name: In re Suhey G.
Case #: B247969
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 11/21/2013
Summary

Where Department failed to properly inform father about proceedings, court was required to consider father’s late request for custody prior to considering termination of his parental rights. Suhey was removed from her mother’s care and placed with a relative; her father’s location was unknown. Despite the Department’s failure to inform him of the proceedings, father contacted the Department eight months later and requested custody. At the following six-month status review hearing, the juvenile court set a section 366.26 hearing without first considering father’s request for custody. The appellate court provided relief on writ review. Although father came forward late in the proceedings, In re Zacharia D. (1993) 6 Cal.4th 435 did not preclude consideration of his request for custody because the Department’s failure to provide him with notice prevented father from requesting custody earlier in the proceedings. As a result, the juvenile court was required to consider his request for custody as a nonoffending parent and make findings pursuant to section 361.2 before setting a section 366.26 hearing.