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#728 Third Department Caselaw Round-Up for October 17, 2013

728 Post 10-17-13 Third Department October.pngHere’s another two-parter, which is also another termination of parental rights decision.

728 Post-2 Tompkins County.pngCase #629 #515318/515317
Matter of Arianna BB.
Tompkins Family-Rowley Key Issue: Ever wonder what you would have to do to have your parental rights terminated to your child(ren)?

The parties are the parents of a daughter who was removed from their custody when she was 11-months old due, in part, to her parents’ history of substance abuse. At the time of the child’s removal, the father was in jail awaiting extradition to Virginia to start serving a prison sentence there.

“Each parent stipulated to a finding of neglect and consented to a dispositional order requiring them to, among other things, successfully complete the … Family Treatment Court program.” Thereafter, DSS filed a petition for permanent neglect against both parents. After a hearing, the parents had their parental rights to their daughter terminated.

Both parents appealed.

Alright, you know the drill. DSS had to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that it engaged in diligent efforts to try to maintain the cohesion of the parties’ family unit and strengthen their relationship with their daughter. And DSS was able to prove this. So, what went wrong with the parents?

These are the things the mother did to justify the termination of her parental rights:
1. “She was unable to remain sober for any appreciable period of time during the more than one-year period preceding the filing of the permanent neglect petition”;
2. “She tested positive for cocaine and marihuana”;
3. “After serving a brief jail sentence [she] relapsed … prior to entering an inpatient substance abuse program because, by her own admission, she was going to rehab anyway and might as well get high”;
4. After being discharged from the program, she “twice relapsed on crack cocaine”;
5. Her parole was revoked due to her drug use;
6. She “had multiple documented suicide attempts during the relevant period notwithstanding her participation in several mental health treatment programs”; and 7. She “failed to plan for the child’s future”.

Basically, the mother’s life was in an obvious downward spiral and she could not even take care of herself, let alone care for a child, in this case, a very young one.

The father wasn’t much better …

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