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#398 Third Department Caselaw Round-Up for July 5, 2012, Part 2 of 4

397 Post 07-05-12, Part 2 Third Department July.pngThe first case is just nasty. There’s no other way to describe it. Then again, when is incest anything but nasty?

The second case concerns abandonment in the context of adopting a child. If you aren’t married, you’re not paying child support, and you do not have a meaningful relationship with your child – and you are uncaring enough to let more than 6 months go by without so much as calling your child – then you deserve the prospect of having your child adopted “right out from under you”. You’re either a full-time parent or you’re not. A child deserves no less.

397 Post-2 St. Lawrence County.pngCase #294 #511639
In the Matter of Dakota Y.
St. Lawrence Family-Rogers Issues: Best Interests; Clear and Convincing Evidence; Criminal Charges; Foster Care; Neglect; Permanent Neglect; Placement; Removal; Sex Offenders; Sexual Abuse; Surrender; Termination of Parental Rights Cited statutes: FCA Art. 10; PL §130.50; SSL §384-b Affirmed

A father had his parental rights terminated with regard to 3 of his 5 children as a result of a prior proceeding. In that prior proceeding, it was established that the father had sexually abused his 10-year old daughter and, thereafter, in criminal court, the father pled guilty to the crime of sodomy in the first degree, which caused him to be classified as a level 2 sex offender.

Upon the birth of another child, a daughter, in 2008, the child was removed from the care and custody of her parents and placed in foster care. DSS filed a neglect petition against the parents with the parents being adjudicated to have neglected the child, who remained in foster care.

In 2010, the mother of the daughter born on 2008 surrendered her parental rights to the child and DSS filed a TPR petition with regard to the father. After a hearing, the father’s parental rights were terminated.

The father appealed.

The Third Department found that though the father “participated in the services offered to him, he had failed to meaningfully benefit therefrom, as evidenced by the fact that he continued to minimize his responsibility for sexually abusing his older daughter.” Furthermore, the father failed to substantially plan for the child’s future, despite being in foster care for over a year, though he was physically and financially able to do so.

The primary problem concerning the father was his inability “to gain any insight into the circumstances that led to the child’s removal from his care”. This was especially the case since “he frequently minimized the severity of the situation by blaming others, including his ex-wife, his mother, and, at times, his daughter, for manufacturing the allegations against him and, in his opinion, blowing the situation out of proportion.”

Query: how does one go about “blowing out of proportion” sodomy between a father and his 10-year old daughter? Is that even possible?

Contrition merits mercy. Defiance and the continued shirking of responsibility do not.

Case #295 #513040
In the Matter of Asia ZZ.
St. Lawrence Surrogate’s-Rogers Issues: Adoption; Credibility Cited statutes: DRL §111 Affirmed

In 2001, an unmarried couple had a child together and the mother later married another man, in 2004. In 2011, the mother’s husband petitioned the Surrogate’s Court to adopt the child on the grounds that the child’s biological father had failed to communicate with the child for over 6 months.

The petition was granted and the biological father appealed.

The biological father’s consent to the adoption was not required because he had not “maintained substantial and continuous contact with the child” through either the payment of child support or visiting with the child on at least a monthly basis, though physically and financially able to do so.

The biological father just didn’t give a damn about his child. One of the saddest sentences of the decision is this: “He never sent the child gifts or cards.” What kind of father does that!? Every child deserves the knowledge and security of knowing that they are loved and care for. Where was the love here? The care? It didn’t exist.

And, besides, every child deserves the right to be able to call somebody Dad.