In re H.D.Annotate this Case
Recognizing she suffered from addiction, S.D. (mother) agreed to let her ex-husband, E.D. (father), assume full custody of their two daughters, who had previously lived primarily with her, until she could get clean and sober. She underwent treatment, and 14 months later, sought to regain partial custody in family court. About a week after mother filed for custody, father’s wife, J.D. (stepmother), filed petitions to free the girls from mother’s custody and control based on abandonment, so stepmother could adopt them. The trial court granted the petitions and terminated mother’s parental rights. The court concluded mother had abandoned her daughters because she had failed to communicate with or financially support them for at least one year. Mother argued on appeal the evidence was insufficient to support the court’s ruling, and the Court of Appeal agreed. Under Family Code section 7822 (a)(3), a parent abandons their child when they leave the child with the other parent for a year, with no communication or financial support, “with the intent . . . to abandon the child.” Mother’s failure to communicate with and financially support her daughters was not due to any intent on her part to abandon her daughters. "Indeed, mother did the opposite of abandon her children, she diligently treated her addictions before trying to regain custody." Because the record contained uncontradicted evidence of her abiding desire and plan to reunify with her children, judgment terminating her parental rights was reversed.