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Name: In re William K.
Case #: C055107
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 03/24/2008
Summary

The trial court did not err by failing to set aside a voluntary declaration of paternity. At the outset of the dependency proceedings, mother identified appellant Ronald F. as the biological father of the minor, but said that W.K. signed a declaration of paternity and was identified as the minor’s father on the birth certificate. Mother stated that she did this to protect the minor when she discovered that Ronald was a registered sex offender. After he was released from prison, Ronald attempted to have contact with the minor, but the court denied him reunification services. On appeal from the dependency proceedings, Ronald contended that the trial court erred in failing to set aside the voluntary declaration of paternity. The appellate court rejected the argument, finding that since the trial court found that the best interests of the minor would not be furthered by doing so, it did not abuse its discretion. The court considered numerous factors, including Ronald’s background and failure to promptly assert his parental rights. The trial court did not err by failing to find appellant a Kelsey S. father. Appellant also contended on appeal that the juvenile court erred in failing to find he met the requirements of a Kelsey S. father. The appellate court rejected the argument, finding that although the pregnancy was planned and Ronald attended the first sonogram, he was then incarcerated and did nothing to seek custody of the minor. When notified of dependency proceedings he did not immediately assert paternity. It was not until after his release from prison that he made efforts to act in a parental role. At best, the evidence was conflicting and the trial court did not abuse its discretion by resolving the conflict adversely to appellant.

Remand was not required to comply with new ICWA statutes. The appellate court also rejected appellant’s claim that remand was required for the trial court to comply with new notice requirements for the ICWA. The new statute was not effective until January, 2007, and therefore did not apply in December, 2006. Nothing in the statute suggests it should operate retroactively.