M.L. v. Superior CourtAnnotate this Case
In May 2014, Contra Costa County Children & Family Services filed dependency petitions, seeking the detention of children born in 2008 and 2011. The maternal grandparents took the children. Mother was out of contact for a month. The whereabouts of both fathers, D.B. and M.C., were also unknown. Mother and M.C. were eventually located in San Mateo County and did not contest the petition. The matter was transferred to San Mateo County. The dispositional report detailed domestic violence, mental illness, drug use, and another pregnancy. In February 2015, the juvenile court removed the children from parental custody and declared them juvenile court dependents. Reunification services were ordered and the children were eventually returned to mother. The following years involved transfers between the counties, several incidents of violence, psychiatric hospitalization, the birth of a fourth child, drinking, and neglect. The children suffered many problems. The court terminated services, finding that the family had received more than 55 months of services since the initial detention, and set the matter for a section 366.26 hearing so that permanent out-of-home placements could be developed. The court of appeal upheld the orders, rejecting arguments that there were reasonable means short of removal to protect the minors and that the minors’ possible Indian heritage was not properly investigated or notice provided to relevant tribes as required under the Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 U.S.C. 1901.