Tuesday, January 5, 2016
Abused Child Can’t Veto Visitation Rights—C.A.
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Court of Appeal for this district has ruled that where a physically abusive mother’s parental ties to her teenage daughter have been severed, visitation rights cannot be conditioned on the child’s consent to monitored meetings.
The minor, Gabriela O., had been abused by her mother, Angelica O., from the age of three. In 2013, when Gabriela was 13, authorities became aware of the situation following an incident where the mother slapped her daughter and dragged her to her bedroom by her hair.
The unpublished opinion, filed Thursday, affirms the order of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Julie Fox Blackshaw terminating its jurisdiction in the case, but reverses the priviso contained in the order for visits.
Presiding Justice Frances Rothschild of Div. One wrote:
“Mother contends that the court erred when it delegated its authority to Gabriela to consent to the court ordered visitations. We agree.”
She cited a 2003 opinion by Div. Seven of this district that said that where visitation is ordered, the court must “ensure that at least some visitation, at a minimum level determined by the court itself, will in fact occur.”
“When the court abdicates its discretion and permits a third party, including the child herself, to determine whether any visitation will occur, the court impermissibly delegates its authority over visitation and abuses its discretion….Here, the court ordered visitations no less than once a month but conditioned them on Gabriela’s consent. This the court cannot do.”
The case is In re Gabriela O., B260718.
Deputy County Counsel Kimberly Roura, representing the Los Angeles County Department of Children And Family Services, argued on behalf of Gabriela. Nancy Rabin Brucker, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, was the attorney for the mother.
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