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Name: In re T.G.
Case #: A134874
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 04/02/2013

Presumed father’s parental rights were improperly terminated where there was no showing of unfitness. Minor was removed from mother at birth when he tested positive for cocaine. Appellant T.B. (father) was neither married to nor living with mother. He requested paternity testing, and was eventually named the presumed father after most of the proceedings but prior to the termination of his parental rights. During the proceedings he repeatedly sought custody of the minor. On appeal, he argued that since the court never made any finding suggesting that he was an unfit parent, the order terminating his parental rights was unconstitutional. The appellate court agreed and reversed the orders. Parental rights of fathers who have never had or sought custody of a child may be terminated without a finding of unfitness. However, the juvenile court cannot terminate the parental rights of presumed fathers without finding clear and convincing evidence that placement with the father would be detrimental. There was no evidence that father was an unfit parent and none to support an implied detriment finding.