Father (F) and Mother (M) are the parents of three children who were living
in San Diego County, California. In November of 2011, F was arrested for
domestic violence and deported to Mexico. After F’s deportation,
The San Diego County of Health and Human Services Agency (Agency) began
investigating the welfare of F and M’s children. There were numerous
referrals that M was abusing alcohol and neglecting their children.
Fifteen investigations took place by the Agency, and in 2015, the children
were placed in protective custody when M was arrested for extreme intoxication
and grand theft. (During this time, F had no contact with his children.)
Although M told the Agency that she had no contact with F, apparently she
contacted him, because he contacted the Agency by phone. He said he was
living in Tijuana, Mexico, and that he wanted the children placed with
him in Mexico.
The Agency contacted Desarrollo Integral para la Familia (DIF) in Mexico
to conduct an evaluation of F’s home and provide him with parenting
education and domestic violence prevention classes.
A few days later, F told the Agency that he’d changed his mind. He
could not educate his children as well as the United States, so he wanted
them to remain there. The Agency told him to contact his attorney to ensure
that was what he wanted to do.
After speaking with his attorney, F changed his mind again, and said that
he wanted custody of his children. However, he had not participated in
any DIF or Agency ordered courses, mostly because DIF failed to provide
them to him. (However, through the Agency’s help, he was able to
visitation with his children during this time at the international border.)
At the hearing of January 3, 2017, the court returned the children to M,
and that she was to be monitored. Regarding F’s request for custody
the court stated: "The bigger problem is that [F] was in Mexico .
. .and unable to benefit from the services provided by the Agency here.
And the reason [F] was in Mexico is because he was deported to Mexico
for domestic-violence related offenses. So through his own actions, he
was deported, and then the Agency couldn't provide services to him.
But the Agency made reasonable efforts to attempt to get the services
provided by the Mexican officials through DIF, and then he showed up at
DIF and said he didn't want the services.”
The Appellate Court agreed with F, stating: “…To support a
finding that reasonable services were offered or provided to the parent,
"the record should show that the supervising agency identified the
problems leading to the loss of custody, offered services designed to
remedy those problems, maintained reasonable contact with the parents
during the course of the service plan, and made reasonable efforts to
assist the parents in areas where compliance proved difficult...Reunification
services should be tailored to the particular needs of the family.”
The Court further stated, “…The Legislature provides that
services for a deported parent include in their country of origin, to
identify any available services that would substantially comply with case
plan requirements, to document the parents' participation in this
services, and to accept reports from local child welfare authorities as
to the parents' living situation, progress and participation in services."
Finally, the Court concluded: “…The record does not contain
any evidence to show that during the review period, the Agency assisted
A.J. in contacting DIF for service referrals or identified any available
services that would substantially comply with case plan requirements.
The record shows that A.J. was not offered, or provided with, the court-ordered
services in his case plan during the review period. Accordingly, we conclude
there is not substantial evidence to support the reasonable services finding.”