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Name: W.P. v. Superior Court
Case #: E069569
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 02/06/2018

Mother was entitled to an additional six months of reunification services where minor under the age of three was placed separately from three older minors. After removal from their parents, the four minors were placed in two separate placements. The older minors, who were age 8 and up, were in one placement. The one-year-old minor was in a separate placement. At the six-month review hearing, the court terminated services and set a 366.26 hearing. Mother’s counsel objected, arguing that mother had twelve months to reunify with the older three minors, and that the minors were not a sibling group with the one-year-old as he had been placed separately. The court responded that a sibling group is a group of siblings who were removed at the same time. On appeal, mother contended that the court erred as a matter of law in declining to provide her a minimum of 12 months of services because it improperly interpreted section 361.5(a)(1)(C) to apply to any siblings, and not just siblings placed together. The appellate court agreed and reversed. The clear language of section 361.5 subdivision (a)(1)(C) states that the court’s power to limit a parent’s services to six months for all minors removed from that parent’s custody, even when they are older than three years, when one member of the sibling group was under three, applies only when that sibling is placed with the older siblings. Therefore mother was entitled to an additional six months of services as to the elder three minors.