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Name: In re Z.F.
Case #: C076664
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/15/2016
Summary

Where juvenile court terminates a probate guardianship, the best interest of the minor finding need only be made by a preponderance of evidence. Maternal grandmother’s probate guardianship of the minor was terminated due to neglect of the minor, following a failure of reunification. On appeal, grandmother argued that the juvenile court was required to articulate the applicable standard of proof when it found that termination of the probate guardianship was in the best interest of the minor. The appellate court ordered supplemental briefing on the appropriate standard of proof. Both parties argued that the applicable standard is clear and convincing evidence. The appellate court disagreed, finding that where a court terminates a probate guardianship pursuant to section 728, the best interest of the minor finding need only be made by a preponderance of evidence. Therefore, the juvenile court did not err when it failed to articulate the standard of proof when it terminated the probate guardianship in the minor’s best interest. The default standard of preponderance of the evidence was the correct standard to apply. [Editor’s note: The court did not address the potential mootness of the appeal when parental rights were subsequently terminated while the case was pending, but where neither parent filed a notice of appeal from the 366.26 hearing.]