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Name: L.Z. v. Superior Court
Case #: A128302
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 09/30/2010

An order denying reunification services was reversed where there was no evidence the mother should have known that baby was abused. The two-month-old minor suffered unexplained nonaccidental injuries including numerous broken bones while in her parents’ care. Both of the teenaged parents had substance abuse issues, and it appeared that the mother was a victim of domestic violence. The mother did not know how or exactly when the baby had been injured, but suspected it may have been caused by the father. She had him move out and obtained a restraining order. The department recommended that services be denied to both parents. The court followed the recommendation, denied services, and set a 366.26 hearing. The appellate court held that since there was no substantial evidence that the mother knew or should have known that the minor was abused prior to the diagnosis of her injuries, the juvenile court order had to be reversed. In light of the lack of evidence or any finding by the court that mother abused the minor, in order for the court to deny her services under section 361.5, subdivision (e), proof was required that the mother knew or should have known that the minor was being abused. Here, there was no such evidence offered. Further, the statute does not predicate the mother’s interest in reunification on the father’s willingness to admit guilt.