Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

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In 1986, Brillantes married Minerva, a U.S. citizen, so that he could come to the U.S. from the Philippines. In 1991, Brillantes sought dissolution of the marriage in Nevada, declaring himself a “bona fide resident” of Nevada. Minerva’s sister, who was also Brillantes’ ex-wife, filed an affidavit in support of Brillantes’s action. Minerva, then living in Seattle, submitted to the court’s jurisdiction. Brillantes was granted a Nevada “Decree of Divorce.” Minerva and Cesar married weeks later. They had three children together. They separated in 2005. Minerva filed a petition for dissolution. Cesar sought a nullity of marriage, alleging that his marriage to Minerva was “void” and “bigamous” because Brillantes resided in California when he obtained a divorce by falsely claiming to be a Nevada resident. Brillantes testified that he had resided in Nevada from early April 1991 through late July 1991, then returned to California, The court denied Cesar’s request, finding that Cesar was estopped from challenging the validity of the divorce decree. The court of appeal reversed. Since the undisputed facts did not show that Cesar was a party to the decree, that he had procured it, assisted in procuring it, or had full knowledge of the circumstances under which it was procured, the court erred in finding that quasi-estoppel applied. Cesar was not “apprised of” facts that Minerva was “ignorant of,” so equitable estoppel was inapplicable. View "In re Marriage of Kalinawan" on Justia Law

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Defendant Nan Hui Jo was convicted by jury of child custody deprivation, for which she was sentenced to 175 days in county jail and thirty-six months probation. She appealed, raising nine alleged evidentiary and procedural errors that occurred at trial, all of which she contends entitle her to a reversal of her conviction. After review, the Court of Appeal concluded defendant’s first and second arguments had merit, but the errors were harmless. View "California v. Jo" on Justia Law

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K.S. was detained by the San Francisco Human Services Agency shortly after her birth in January 2017, due to a referral indicating that mother had tested positive for methamphetamines during a recent prenatal visit. The dependency petition cited mother’s long history of substance abuse for which she failed to receive treatment; the termination of mother’s parental rights with respect to four older children based on her untreated polysubstance abuse; the parents’ history of domestic violence; father’s history of substance abuse, for which he failed to seek treatment until June 2017; and the termination of father’s parental rights to three other children. Mother and father challenged the juvenile court order denying them reunification services with respect to K.S., their only child in common, and setting a permanency planning hearing under Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.26. Under section 361.5(b)(10) and (b)(11), reunification services need not be offered to a parent if the court has previously terminated reunification services or parental rights with respect to a sibling or half-sibling of the child and the parent “has not subsequently made a reasonable effort to treat the problems that led to removal.” The court of appeal affirmed; the record sufficiently supports the juvenile court's determinations and declining to apply a “best interests” analysis. View "Jennifer S. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's order modifying the amount of spousal support ex-husband was obligated to pay ex-wife and a subsequent order denying his motion for a new trial, motion to vacate, and motion for reconsideration. Ex-husband requested termination of spousal support after he retired at age 65 and transferred his business to his current wife for no consideration. The court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that ex-husband had transferred the business in bad faith in order to avoid his support obligations and that income from the business could continue to be imputed to ex-husband for purposes of spousal support. View "In re Marriage of Berman" on Justia Law

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The juvenile court is statutorily required to appoint counsel for the parent of a child who is in an out-of-home placement if the parent is presently financially unable to afford and cannot for that reason employ counsel unless the court finds that the parent has made a knowing and intelligent waiver of counsel. The Court of Appeal held that the juvenile court's error in failing to timely appoint counsel for mother in a Welfare and Institutions Code section 388 hearing resulted in a miscarriage of justice. In this case, mother was without representation for more than two years, the child resided primarily in a group home during that time, and she had requested reappointment of counsel. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded to the juvenile court with directions. View "In re J.P." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal reversed the juvenile court's jurisdictional finding over the child under Welfare and Institutions Code section 300, subdivision (b). The court held that the juvenile court's finding was not supported by substantial evidence where there was no evidence of past police raids, gang retaliation, nor shoot-outs in the home based on father's admitted gang membership and his possession of a firearm. Furthermore, the Department of Children and Family Services did not argue that evidence that one parent is a gang member, without more, can serve as a basis for taking jurisdiction of a child. View "In re C.V." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal vacated the juvenile court's jurisdictional finding over the child under Welfare and Institutions Code section 300, subdivision (b), and his removal from mother's custody. The court held that the Department of Children and Family Services failed to meet its burden of proof to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that mother had failed to adequately supervise or protect the child; to provide him with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment; or to provide regular care for him. In this case, the juvenile court's finding that the child comes within the juvenile court's jurisdiction was not supported by substantial evidence. View "In re Joaquin C." on Justia Law

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At a special hearing, the juvenile court issued a permanent restraining order prohibiting the child's stepfather from having any contact with the child (C.M.). The child's mother, E.S., appealed an order the juvenile court issued at the same hearing, directing the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (Agency) to immediately remove her child from her care if there is "any evidence that the minor has been exposed to [his stepfather] or if mother violates the restraining order." While the Court of Appeal appreciated the juvenile court's assessment of the need to warn E.S. in no uncertain terms there would be serious consequences if C.M. has any contact with the stepfather, the Court concluded issuing a conditional removal order was not the way to warn her. “Removal, including a temporary detention, must be made on a timely assessment of risk to the child. Here, the court may have informed E.S. about the potential legal consequences of exposing C.M. to [the stepfather], including removal from her custody and termination of parental rights. The court may have directed the Agency to immediately bring to its attention any evidence of contact between C.M. and [the stepfather] and to set a hearing to address the issue. However, the conditional removal order disregards the dependency scheme, which is carefully calculated, not only to protect the child, but also to guarantee procedural and substantive due process to the child and the parent.” View "In re C.M." on Justia Law

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In September 2014, Andrew, less than one month old, was admitted to the hospital with a skull fracture, bilateral hematomas on both sides of the brain, diffused retinal hemorrhage in his right eye, and multiple old fractures of the ribs. Andrew and his five-year-old half-sibling were taken into custody. Andrew was placed with his maternal great-grandparents. After an extended contested hearing, the juvenile court concluded that Andrew’s father was responsible for the infant’s serious injuries and denied father reunification services. Father had admitted to causing Andrew’s injuries during a pretext phone call with Mother and had been arrested. Both parents subsequently continued to deny responsibility. Mother reunited with Father and claimed that she made the pretext call under duress. She sought to establish that Andrew’s injuries were congenital while Father asserted that the five-year-old might have hurt the baby. The juvenile court terminated mother’s reunification services with respect to Andrew and set a permanency planning hearing under Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.26. The court of appeal affirmed, concluding that substantial evidence supported the court’s jurisdictional findings and dispositional orders. Neither parent was even willing to acknowledge that nonaccidental injury occurred, conduct amounting to “a willful denial of the injuries themselves.” View "In re Madison S." on Justia Law

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A child who seeks a declaration of paternity after her putative father is deceased presents a justiciable controversy when the child requests no financial remuneration. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's dismissal of plaintiff's paternity lawsuit, holding that plaintiff had standing to bring her suit. The court held that Family Code section 7630 contains no conditional requirement that the child express a pecuniary interest as a condition of the paternity suit. Nor does it contain an age limitation. The court reasoned that plaintiff's interest in identifying her father was independent of a claim for financial remuneration, afforded her standing, and demonstrated a justiciable controversy. View "Dent v. Wolf" on Justia Law