California Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) section 366.26 - Interpretation

In In re L.Y.L. (2002) 101 Cal.App.4th 942, the court of appeal held that in applying section 366.26(c)(1)(B)(v) a juvenile court is "first to determine whether terminating parental rights would substantially interfere with the sibling relationship by evaluating the nature and extent of the relationship, including whether the child and sibling were raised in the same house, shared significant common experiences or have existing close and strong bonds. If the court determines terminating parental rights would substantially interfere with the sibling relationship, the court is then directed to weigh the child's best interest in continuing that sibling relationship against the benefit the child would receive by the permanency of adoption.)" (In re L.Y.L., supra, 101 Cal.App.4th at pp. 951-952.) In In re Jasmine D. (2000) 78 Cal.App.4th 1339, 1351, the appellate court acknowledged that courts have "routinely applied the substantial evidence test" to the juvenile court's finding under section 366.26, subdivision (c)(1)(B)(i). The appellate court in In re Jasmine D. stated that the abuse of discretion standard is a more appropriate standard even though "the practical differences between the two standards of review are not significant." (In re Jasmine D., supra, 78 Cal.App.4th at p. 1351.) In In re Brian P. (2002) 99 Cal.App.4th 616, although the reports prepared for the section 366.26 hearing stated the child was adoptable, they contained no evidence to support this conclusion, and the appellate court determined "the record raised as many questions as assurances about his adoptability." (Id. at pp. 624-625.) The court concluded the "fragmentary and ambiguous evidence was not enough to buttress the social service agency's position that the child was adoptable." (Id. at p. 625.)