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Name: M.C. v. Superior Court
Case #: A148627
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 09/29/2009

Writ relief was granted where the trial court improperly terminated services prior to the 12-month review hearing in the absence of a 388 petition and without the circumstances set forth in section 361.5(a)(2). The 5- and 11-year-old minors were removed from mother due to her substance abuse, and reunification services were ordered. At the six month review hearing, mother advised the court that she had been sentenced to state prison for 16 months. The court terminated services, finding that there was an “extremely low” likelihood of reunification prior to the 12-month review hearing. The court set a 366.26 hearing. Mother sought writ relief, contending that she was statutorily entitled to 12 months of services, and that period could only be shortened upon the filing of a section 388 petition. The appellate court granted writ relief, finding that where the detained child is three years or older, 12 months of services must be provided, unless a 388 petition is filed, or unless the court finds by clear and convincing evidence circumstances as provided in section 361.5, subdivision (a)(2). Here, those circumstances were not present and no 388 petition was filed. Therefore, the juvenile court did not have the authority to terminate services early.