Visitation Rights Cases in California

Examples of Visitation Rights Cases in California:

In In re Donnovan J. (1997) 58 Cal.App.4th 1474, the juvenile court order stated, "'no visitation rights without permission of minors' therapists.'" (Id. at p. 1477.)

The appellate court held the order was improper because it did not include any criteria, such as satisfactory progress, to inform the therapists when visitation would be appropriate; rather, the order left visitation to the therapists' sole discretion. (Ibid.)

However, in In re Chantal S. (1996) 13 Cal.4th 196, 203-204, the court approved an order requiring that visitation for the father be facilitated by the minors' therapist when the father had made satisfactory progress.

In In re Nicholas B. (2001) 88 Cal.App.4th 1126, the juvenile court first suspended visitation between the child and parents and later stated that visitation would not occur until the child's therapist expressed support for visitation, after which visitation would take place one hour per month, supervised at the social worker's discretion. (Id. at p. 1138.)

The appellate court agreed that the order gave too much discretion to the therapist and failed to require visitation as a necessary part of family reunification. (Ibid.)

Similarly, in In re Julie M. (1999) 69 Cal.App.4th 41, the court held that the juvenile court abused its discretion in giving the children absolute discretion to decide whether their mother could visit them because "the order essentially delegated judicial power to the children--an abdication of governmental responsibility which was disapproved" in prior cases. (In re Julie M., supra, 69 Cal.App.4th at pp. 48-49}

In In re Danielle W. (1989) 207 Cal.App.3d 1227, 1237, the court upheld an order that granted visitation "at the discretion" of the social services agency and the children and provided that the juvenile court would not order the children to visit if they did not want to. (Id. at p. 1237.) The court held that the order merely required the agency to take the children's wishes into consideration and did not give the children more than the power to "express their desires in that regard." (Ibid.)

However, in upholding the order, the court expressed reservations about visitation orders that did not provide guidelines as to the prerequisites for or limitations on visitation. (Ibid.) The court recognized that while a child's aversion to visiting an abusive parent could be a dominant factor in administering visitation, it could not be the sole factor. (Ibid.)

In short, "the juvenile court must first determine whether or not visitation should occur . . . and then provide the Department with guidelines as to the prerequisites of visitation or any limitations or required circumstances." (In re Danielle W., supra, 207 Cal.App.3d at p. 1237.)