California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 366.3(b) - Dependency Law
Welfare and Institutions Code Section 366.3, subdivision (b) provides in pertinent part:
"Notwithstanding Section 1601 of the Probate Code, the proceedings to terminate a legal guardianship that has been granted pursuant to section 360 or 366.26 shall be held either in the juvenile court that retains jurisdiction over the guardianship as authorized by Section 366.4 or the juvenile court in the county where the guardian and child currently reside, based on the best interests of the child, unless the termination is due to the emancipation or adoption of the child. The juvenile court having jurisdiction over the guardianship shall receive notice from the court in which the petition is filed within five calendar days of the filing. Prior to the hearing on a petition to terminate legal guardianship pursuant to this subdivision, the court shall order the county department of social services or welfare department having jurisdiction or jointly with the county department where the guardian and child currently reside to prepare a report, for the court's consideration, that shall include an evaluation of whether the child could safely remain in, or be returned to, the legal guardian's home, without terminating the legal guardianship, if services were provided to the child or legal guardian. If applicable, the report shall also identify recommended family maintenance or reunification services to maintain the legal guardianship and set forth a plan for providing those services. If the petition to terminate legal guardianship is granted, either juvenile court may resume dependency jurisdiction over the child, and may order the county department of social services or welfare department to develop a new permanent plan, which shall be presented to the court within 60 days of the termination. If no dependency jurisdiction has attached, the social worker shall make any investigation he or she deems necessary to determine whether the child may be within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, as provided in section 328."
Under section 366.3, subdivision (b), in a proceeding to terminate a legal guardianship granted pursuant to section 366.26, which occurred in the present case, the juvenile court retains jurisdiction over the guardianship based on the "best interests of the child . . . ." ( 366.3, subdivision (b).)
Furthermore, "any minor for whom a guardianship has been established resulting from the selection or implementation of a permanency plan pursuant to Section 366.26 is within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court. . . ." ( 366.4.)
The purpose of section 366.4 is to provide the juvenile court with continuing jurisdiction over guardianships established in the juvenile court. (In re D.R. (2007) 155 Cal.App.4th 480, 486-487.)
In giving the juvenile court continuing jurisdiction over the guardianship, the dependency statutes require the court to consider the child's best interests. The overriding purpose of the hearings in dependency cases is to implement the best interest of the child. (See, e.g., In re Lauren R. (2007) 148 Cal.App.4th 841, 855.)
Indeed, an application to terminate a guardianship created by the juvenile court is governed by section 388. ( 360.) Section 388 provides that a juvenile court may change an earlier issued order, such as an order creating a legal guardianship, "if it appears that the best interests of the child may be promoted by the proposed change of order . . . ." ( 388, subd. (c), italics added.)
When interpreting section 366.3, subdivision (b), we must harmonize this statute within the dependency scheme, which "identifies the legislative preferences for providing permanent and stable homes--adoption, guardianship, and long-term foster care. . . . The statute establishes a presumption favoring guardianship over long-term foster care ( 366.26, subd. (c)(4)) because guardianship is recognized as a more stable placement.
In some dependency proceedings, the best available permanent alternative may be long-term foster care, but it is still presumed that guardianship is the better option." (In re Jessica C. (2007) 151 Cal.App.4th 483, 484.)
The "overall intent of the dependency scheme is to protect children from abuse or neglect and to provide permanent, stable homes if those children cannot be returned home within a set period of time." (Id. at p. 483.)