In January of 2015, Mother was arrested for credit card fraud and child endangerment. Her home was found to be in a deplorable condition and unsafe for her Son, age two years old. Because of the unsafe conditions, the San Bernardino County Child and Family Services (CFS) requested the juvenile court detain Son from his Mother’s home and place him in temporary foster care. The court granted CFS’s request, and Son was placed in a suitable foster home. (Son’s Father was imprisoned for numerous violent felony arrests and convictions at the time, including murder, rape, vehicle theft, burglary, spousal abuse, and drug offenses.)
Father was due to be released from prison in April of 2015. Because of Father’s violent criminal past, CFS requested that juvenile court also prevent Father from reunifying with Son. The CFS social worker informed the court, that along with his violent past and frequent incarcerations, Father rarely spent time with any of the six children he fathered with different women. He also engaged in numerous instances of spousal abuse, including against Mother. In another instance, Father injured his former wife causing her to be hospitalized, and Father’s parental rights to their child were permanently terminated after Father failed to reunify with the child.
In April of 2015, the juvenile court terminated Father’s parental rights, and Father appealed.
The Appellate Court agreed with the Juvenile Court. Under Section 361 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code, a court can terminate parental rights when a parent previously failed to reunify with the child’s sibling or half sibling; and if the parent subsequently made no reasonable effort to treat the problems that led to the removal of the sibling or half sibling.
The Appellate Court quoted from a previous case in making its decision: “If the child’s parent has suffered the previous termination of parental rights as to a sibling or half sibling, there is the potential that providing reunification services would be fruitless in light of the parent’s past history.”