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Name: N.M. v. Superior Court
Case #: A149327
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 11/17/2016

Juvenile court did not lack discretion to order 366.26 hearing where adequacy of services was not raised until writ petition, and there was no reasonable likelihood of reunification. Minors were removed due to mother’s untreated mental health issues and her physical abuse of the minors. Following the 18-month review hearing, the juvenile court terminated services and set a 366.26 hearing. The court declined to continue services for another six months because both minors still were afraid of mother and were opposed to visitation. The court found that reasonable services had been provided. In this writ petition, mother contended that the court lacked discretion to set a 366.26 hearing because the evidence did not support the finding that she had received reasonable reunification services. The appellate court denied the writ petition on the merits. Whether reasonable services had been provided was not the relevant inquiry here. At the 18-month review hearing, the court lacks discretion to order additional services except where it determines by clear and convincing evidence that those actions serve the minors’ best interests. This was not the case here. Further, mother waited too long to claim that services were not adequate. She did not object at either the 6-month or 12-month review hearings, and objected at the 18-month review hearing only to the visitation. The sufficiency of mental health services is a point raised for the first time in her writ petition. Mother’s delay in challenging the adequacy of services provided was fatal to her argument.