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Juan R.E.M. v. Juan R.E. 2017 N.Y. Slip Op. 6977 (N.Y. App. Div. 2017) revolves around the efforts of a child to obtain special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS) in the United States. SIJS was designed to provide protection to immigrant children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both parents. Established under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), SIJS aims to safeguard vulnerable minors who have faced hardships in their home countries and are unable to reunify with their parents due to these circumstances. This status offers a pathway for these children to obtain lawful permanent residency in the U.S., ensuring their safety and well-being.

The eligibility criteria for SIJS are specific and stringent, requiring applicants to meet both immigration and state court dependency standards. To qualify, the applicant must be under 21 years old and unmarried, and they must have been declared dependent on a juvenile court due to abuse, abandonment, or neglect by one or both parents. Additionally, the court must determine that it is not in the child’s best interest to be returned to their home country and that they would benefit from remaining in the United States. This dual requirement, involving both immigration and state court proceedings, underscores the complexity of the SIJS process.

One of the key features of SIJS is that it provides a pathway for undocumented immigrant children to obtain legal status in the U.S., even if they entered the country unlawfully or overstayed their visas. This is crucial as it prevents these vulnerable minors from falling through the cracks of the immigration system and facing potential deportation to unsafe environments. By granting them lawful permanent residency, SIJS allows these children to access essential rights and protections, including the ability to work legally, pursue education, and access healthcare services.

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In New York Family Court, a permanency hearing is a legal proceeding designed to determine the long-term plan for children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect, or other circumstances endangering their well-being. These hearings aim to establish a stable and secure environment for the children involved.

During a permanency hearing, the court reviews the progress and circumstances of the child, the child’s family, and any involved agencies since the child’s placement into foster care. It evaluates various factors, including the child’s safety, well-being, and the efforts made towards family reunification or alternative permanency goals, such as adoption or guardianship.

The hearing allows all parties, including the child’s biological parents, foster parents, legal guardians, and representatives from child welfare agencies, to present evidence, testimony, and recommendations regarding the child’s future placement and care. The court considers the child’s best interests as paramount in making its decision.

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In Scott v. Thompson, 166 A.D.3d 627 (N.Y. App. Div. 2018), the custody dispute included allegations of domestic abuse. In child custody determinations, New York courts always prioritize the best interest of the child. When allegations of domestic violence arise, courts must evaluate their impact on the child’s well-being and safety. Courts examine whether either parent has engaged in acts of domestic violence, particularly in the presence of the child. This assessment is vital in determining the child’s best interests and the appropriate custody arrangement. The safety and welfare of the child take precedence, and any history of violence or abuse can influence the parent’s fitness to provide a nurturing and secure environment.

The frequency, severity, and nature of the domestic violence incidents are weighed, considering the potential risk they pose to the child’s physical and emotional health. Moreover, courts consider the protective measures taken by the victimized parent to safeguard themselves and the child from further harm.

By thoroughly examining the circumstances surrounding the domestic violence allegations, courts aim to ensure the child’s safety and well-being while promoting a stable and nurturing environment. Pursuant to Domestic Relations Law § 240(1)(a), in any action or proceeding concerning custody or parental access where domestic violence is alleged, “the court must consider” the effect of such domestic violence upon the best interests of the child along with all the other relevant factors. Ultimately, the goal is to protect the child from harm and promote their best interests, which may involve awarding custody to the parent who can provide a safe and stable environment free from violence and abuse.

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In Daphne M. v. Wanda J. (In re Caleesta S.) 200 A.D.3d 504 (N.Y. App. Div. 2021), the court had to determine whether a nonparent should be granted guardianship of a child over a parent.

In New York, circumstances may arise where a nonparent is considered for guardianship over a child instead of a parent. This typically occurs in situations where the child’s parents are unable to provide proper care or when extraordinary circumstances warrant the appointment of a nonparent guardian. Such scenarios often involve the death or incapacity of one or both parents, leading a nonparent relative or family friend to seek guardianship to fulfill the child’s needs.

Additionally, if a parent has abandoned the child or neglected their parental responsibilities, and evidence suggests that the child’s welfare is at risk, a nonparent guardian may be appointed to ensure the child’s safety and well-being. In cases where a parent is deemed unfit due to issues like substance abuse, mental illness, or criminal behavior, the court may opt to appoint a nonparent guardian to protect the child from harm.

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In determining custody arrangements in New York, several factors are considered. One important factor is the child’s established environment. This includes where the child currently lives and attends school, as well as their social connections and daily routines. Courts aim to minimize disruption to the child’s life by prioritizing continuity and stability.

Another factor is parental fitness. This involves assessing each parent’s ability to care for the child’s overall well-being. Factors such as parenting skills, mental and physical health, and the ability to provide a safe and nurturing environment are taken into account. Courts also consider the past behavior and performance of each parent in fulfilling their parental responsibilities.

The child’s expressed preferences also play a role in custody determinations. While the child’s desires are considered, they are not determinative. Instead, courts weigh the child’s preferences against other factors, such as their age, maturity, and the reasons behind their preferences. Older children may have more weight given to their preferences, especially if they are able to articulate reasoned opinions.

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D.L. v. S.B. 2022 N.Y. Slip Op. 5940 (N.Y. 2022) concerns the interpretation of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) regarding out-of-state, noncustodial parents seeking custody of their children who are in the custody of New York social services agencies. The key question revolves around whether the ICPC applies to such situations.

The ICPC is an agreement among U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It establishes procedures and requirements for the interstate placement of children who are in need of foster care or adoption services. The primary goal of the ICPC is to ensure that when a child is placed across state lines, they are provided with suitable care and protection, and that all relevant parties involved in the placement process comply with the necessary legal and administrative standards.

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In re Mardin M.-I. 2020 N.Y. Slip Op. 5754 (N.Y. App. Div. 2020) is a guardianship case that is also related to seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). SIJS provides a pathway to lawful permanent residency, allowing children to live and work legally in the country. This status offers stability and security, granting access to various social services, educational opportunities, and employment prospects that would otherwise be unavailable to undocumented minors.

Moreover, SIJS shields children from deportation proceedings, offering them protection from removal to potentially dangerous or unstable situations in their home countries. It recognizes the vulnerabilities of immigrant children who may have experienced abuse, neglect, or abandonment, and provides a legal mechanism for them to remain in the U.S. under the care of a guardian.

Additionally, SIJS empowers children to reunite with family members or caregivers who can provide them with a safe and supportive environment. By enabling children to petition for SIJS, they are afforded the opportunity to establish permanent ties with responsible adults who can advocate for their well-being and best interests.

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In In re TN 2020 N.Y. Slip Op. 50548 (N.Y. Fam. Ct. 2020), a case about the guardianship of a minor child, significant constitutional rights were at stake. The petitioner, acting on behalf of the maternal aunt seeking guardianship of the child, filed a motion to waive service of process upon the child’s father. This motion raised critical questions regarding due process and a parent’s fundamental right to the care and custody of their child.

In a guardianship proceeding in New York, the requirement of service of process is a critical component of safeguarding the due process rights of all involved parties, particularly the parents. When initiating a guardianship petition, the petitioner must ensure that proper notice is served upon all interested parties, including the parents of the child in question.

Service of process involves delivering a copy of the petition and relevant legal documents to the respondent or respondents, typically by personal delivery. This step ensures that parents, who are typically considered interested parties in guardianship proceedings, are informed of the legal action being taken and are given an opportunity to participate in the proceedings.

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In Olga L.G.M. v. Santos T.F., 164 A.D.3d 1341 (N.Y. App. Div. 2018), a case concerning a guardianship petition under Family Court Act article 6, a mother appealed from an order dismissing her petition without a hearing. The order was issued by the Family Court of Nassau County, prompting the mother to challenge it.

A New York guardianship petition under Family Court Act article 6 is a legal action filed in the Family Court to request the appointment of a guardian for a minor child. This petition is typically filed by a parent, relative, or other interested party seeking to obtain legal authority to make decisions regarding the child’s welfare and affairs.

Under Article 6 of the Family Court Act, the court has the authority to appoint a guardian for a child if it is deemed to be in the child’s best interests. Guardianship may be sought for various reasons, including when a parent is unable to care for the child due to incapacity, incarceration, or other circumstances.

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The doctrine of forum non conveniens, a Latin term meaning “forum not convenient,” allows a court to decline jurisdiction over a case if another forum would be more appropriate for the resolution of the dispute. In New York, this doctrine applies to various legal matters, including divorce and child custody disputes, when issues of jurisdiction and forum selection arise.

In divorce and child custody cases, forum non conveniens may come into play when one party argues that another jurisdiction would be more suitable for resolving the dispute. Factors considered by the court include the parties’ residences, the child’s welfare, the location of evidence, financial circumstances, and court familiarity with the case.

For example, if a couple has ties to both New York and another country, and the child primarily resides outside New York, a court may find that the other jurisdiction is more appropriate for adjudicating custody matters. Similarly, if evidence and witnesses are predominantly located in another jurisdiction, it may be more convenient for the case to be heard there.

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