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

729 Post 10-17-13 Third Department October.pngAnd here is Part 2 of the previous blog post.

729 Post-2 Tompkins County.pngCase #630 #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)?
Affirmed

The father of an 11-month old daughter had his parental rights terminated and he appealed.

The Third Department affirmed the Family Court’s orders because the record revealed that the father was in no position to care for himself, let alone a very young child:
1. “He was incarcerated at the time of the child’s removal”;
2. After his release from prison, “he resumed using crack cocaine with the mother”;
3. “He tested positive for four different [illegal] substances, including cocaine and heroin”;
4. He “also failed to complete mandated mental health services”;
5. He failed to complete his domestic violence program;
6. He failed to complete his anger management program;
7. He “continued to engage in domestic violence with the mother”;
8. He “lost his housing and lacked any stable income”; and 9. He “offered no plan for the child’s future”.

Both the mother and the father also argued that “Family Court should have entered a suspended judgment in lieu of terminating their parental rights.” However, in my experience, suspended judgments are only utilized in those instances where both DSS and the Court believe that there may be some extenuating circumstances to justify giving one or both parents another chance – before their parental rights are terminated.

In this particular case, it seems unlikely that either parent would have changed their terrible ways, let alone would have done so within the course of a year, the standard period of time for a suspended judgment. They simply were poor candidates for a suspended judgment. In fact, both parents had “a long and consistent history of failing to benefit from” the services offered to them by DSS, in DSS’ attempts to use diligent efforts to reunite the parents with their daughter.

While it is certainly sad that parents lose their child(ren) to the state, they do so only after making many terrible choices that inevitably put the child(ren) at great risk of danger or death. And their parental rights are only terminated after DSS has made substantial and documented diligent efforts to help them become healthfully reunited with their child(ren).

Should you need your case appealed, remember to file your Notice of Appeal IMMEDIATELY! If you have any questions about filing a Notice of Appeal, then CONTACT ME IMMEDIATELY!

Contact me immediately to schedule A FREE ONE HOUR OFFICE CONSULTATION so that we may be able to determine if you have a case that may be successful on appeal.