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Name: Samantha T. v. Superior Court (San Diego County)
Case #: D059540
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 07/06/2011

A friend of mother’s, unknown to minors, is not a “nonrelated extended family member” (NREFM) for purposes of Welfare and Institutions Code section 362.7. Minors’ counsel challenged by writ petition a juvenile court order placing pursuant to section 362.7 the dependent minors with Megan, who the court found to be a NREFM. Megan was a longstanding close family friend of mother’s but she did not have a close relationship with the minors. The appellate court granted minors’ counsel’s petition. Megan did not qualify as an NREFM under the express language of the statute because she did not have a close relationship with the minors. Further, it was not a case where the statute should be extended beyond its express terms because the order was not intended to enhance reunification or otherwise place the minors in a home sensitive to their backgrounds. Further, there were numerous families interested in adopting the minors as a sibling pair, so Megan was not the only opportunity to establish a permanent home for the minors. Further, Megan’s close ties to the mother presented obvious risks to the minors’ emotional stability and well-being. Therefore, placement of the minors with Megan was not in their best interest.