Child Detention Due to Parents Drug Abuse In California

In In re S.B. (2008) 164 Cal.App.4th 289, the father had been the child's primary caregiver for three years. (S.B., supra, 164 Cal.App.4th at p. 298.) Following the child's detention due to the parents' drug abuse, the father "'complied with every aspect of his case plan,' including maintaining his sobriety and consistently visiting the child." (Id. at p. 293.) But the father's emotional and physical health, compromised due to his years of combat service during the Vietnam War, interfered with his ability to reunify and the father conceded "his current health problems impeded his ability to care for the child full time." (Id. at p. 294.) A bonding study indicated that "because the bond between the father and the child was fairly strong, there was a potential for harm to the child were she to lose the parent-child relationship." (Id. at pp. 295-296.) The social worker admitted there would be "some detriment" to the child if parental rights were terminated. (Id. at p. 295.) The juvenile court found the father and the child had "'an emotionally significant relationship' . . . ." (Id. at p. 298.) But, because the child looked to her grandparents for her daily needs and nurturing, it concluded the parental benefit exception could not be applied. (Id. at pp. 296-297.) In reversing, the appellate court concluded application of the benefit exception did not depend on the child's primary attachment. Based on the evidence, including that the father "maintained a parental relationship with the child through consistent contact and visitation," the father's "devotion to the child was constant, as evinced by his full compliance with his case plan and continued efforts to regain his physical and psychological health," and the evidence the child "loved her father, wanted their relationship to continue and derived some measure of benefit from his visits, . . . the only reasonable inference is that the child would be greatly harmed by the loss of her significant, positive relationship with the father." (Id. at pp. 300-301.)