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Name: Wayne F. v. Superior Court
Case #: D048807
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 12/20/2006

The minor child Antonio had been in the care of Wayne and Lisa F. since he was an infant. They had not completed the adoption process, and the Agency issued a notice that it had concluded it was in the minor’s best interest that he be removed. The juvenile court refused to permit Wayne and Lisa to fully participate in a removal hearing, and they challenged the proceedings by way of a writ. The appellate court in this opinion granted the petition. Under Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.26, subdivision (n), a caretaker who is designated as a prospective adoptive parent (PAP) must be given notice and an opportunity to object to removal of a minor from his or her care. Upon receiving an objection from a PAP, the juvenile court must hold a hearing and determine whether removal of the child is in his or her best interest. PAPs are permitted to offer evidence and make arguments. Since Wayne and Lisa disputed the Department’s assertion that they lacked parenting skills and were committed to adoption, the court had to resolve these facts prior to determining what was in the minor’s best interest. Reversal was required to determine whether Wayne and Lisa qualified as PAPs, and if so, they were entitled to fully participate in subsequent removal hearings.