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Name: Katie V. v. Superior Court
Case #: D045980
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 06/22/2005

Mother sought extraordinary writ review of the juvenile court’s order terminating her reunification services at the 18-month review hearing, contending that she had not received reasonable services and that the court erred by applying a preponderance of the evidence standard instead of requiring clear and convincing evidence. The appellate court rejected the argument. The heightened clear and convincing evidence standard of proof is required for reasonable services findings at the six and twelve-month review hearings, but not at the eighteen-month review hearing. At the eighteen-month review hearing, the parent has already received services beyond what the law contemplates, and barring exceptional circumstances, the reunification period has ended. Therefore, a heightened standard of proof would run counter to the child’s best interests. Further, substantial evidence supported the court’s reasonable services finding where mother was required to complete a domestic violence program and a parenting course, and to undergo counseling and substance abuse treatment. The services were reasonable and addressed the issues pertinent to the dependency. Mother’s refusal to take her medications and attend therapy demonstrated her own lack of initiative, not a lack of services available.