Monday, June 19, 2017
Wife-Beater Who Was Deported Had Right to Child-Reunification Services—C.A.
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A father who was deported to Mexico after beating his wife is still entitled to reunification services with respect to his three children who remained here with their mother, the Court of Appeal held Friday.
Just as it was observed in a 2002 case that there is no “Go to jail, lose your child” rule in the state, Justice Terry B. O’Rourke said in an opinion for the Fourth District’s Div. Three, “there is no ‘Go to Mexico, lose your child’ rule in California.”
The appeals court left intact the order of San Diego Superior Court Judge Blaine K. Bowman returning the couple’s children, who had been found dependent, to the mother. The father, denominated “A.J.” in the opinion, did not contest that action, and acknowledged that they were better off in the United States with her.
“The remedy for the failure to provide court-ordered reunification services to a parent,” O’Rourke wrote, “is to provide an additional period of reunification services to that parent and to make a finding on the record that reasonable services were not offered or provided to that parent.”
The disposition included that finding.
Trial Judge’s View
In making a contrary finding, Bowman made note that at one point, A.J. had declined reunification services by the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency, through Mexico’s Desarrollo Integral para la Familia (“DIF”). The judge continued:
“The bigger problem is that he was in Mexico...and unable to benefit from the services provided by the Agency here. And the reason the father was in Mexico is because he was deported to Mexico for domestic-violence related offenses. So through the father’s 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 court’s finding the Agency could not provide services to A.J. because he was responsible for his own deportation is legally indefensible. A.J.’s arrest and deportation to Mexico do not make the Agency’s failure to provide court-ordered services to A.J. reasonable under the circumstances….The Legislature recognizes there may be barriers to providing services to a person who has been arrested and deported to his or her country of origin….However, under the California dependency scheme, this circumstance may constitute reason to provide an extended period of reunification services to the parent….It does not relieve the Agency from its obligation to provide reunification services to a deported parent.”
Substantial Evidence Lacking
The jurist went on to say:
“The Agency represented that it was looking for service providers and could provide discretionary services to A.J. in Mexico. The record shows that visitation services were available, but were not implemented on a regular basis. Parenting education programs were available through DIF, but DIF had not yet referred A.J. to a program. Thus, the court’s finding the Agency could not provide services to A.J. because he was in Mexico is not supported by substantial evidence.”
The case is In re A.J., 17 S.O.S. 3104.
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