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Custody Case Remanded for Dispositional Hearing

This case involves the petitioner and appellant, St. Christopher – Ottillie and the respondent Lillian T. The matter deals with the dependent children including Michael Anthony Vincent J, et al. The case is being heard in the First Department, Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York.

A New York Family Lawyer said the order that is being appealed was made by Judge Richard Ross in the Family Court of Bronx County. The order was issued on the 8th of February, 1996 and dismissed separate petitions that sought the termination of the respondent’s parental rights with infants Michael Anthony Vincent J. and Rose Antoinette J.

Case Background

The children Rose Antoinette J. and Michael Anthony Vincent J. were born to mother Lillian T. and father Kevin Vincent J. In April of 1989 the children were placed with the Commissioner of Social Services of the City of New York by the Bronx County Family Court. The Commissioner of Social Services of the City of New York then placed the children with the Children’s Aid Society. In September of 1991, the children were placed with St. Christopher – Ottillie.

A New York Criminal Lawyer said the petitions allege that the respondents Lillian T and Kevin Vincent J. have failed to follow through on diligent efforts that have been made by the caseworkers from the agency to try and encourage and strengthen the parental relationship between the couple and their children.

Ms. Lafontaine, a caseworker for the agency, testified that she repeatedly attempted to involve both the respondents in planning for the children including keeping in regular and consistent contact wit them. She encouraged them to follow through with parenting skills training and psychiatric and psychological evaluations. She encouraged the father to attend a drug abuse assessment as well. However, both of the respondents failed to keep contact with the children.

The mother was regularly late for scheduled visits and refused the services that were offered to her by the caseworker. A Nassau County Family Lawyer said there were 38 scheduled visits in 1992. Of these visits Lillian failed to show up for 16 of them. She was late for 14 of the 22 visits that she did show up for.

In the case for Kevin Vincent J. there was no relationship developed between the father and the children due to the extreme inconsistency of his visits. At times there were gaps of four or five months between his visits with the children. Rose Antoinette J. had been placed in foster care because of the alleged drug abuse of Kevin Vincent J. This meant that substance abuse evaluations were also required of him and he failed to attend these as well.

Case Decision

The court has reviewed the entire record of the case. It shows that the petitioner – appellant/agency has done everything possible to try and reunite this family as required by the Social Services Laws. The respondents have permanently neglected their children. The agency made diligent effort to try and help this family and these efforts were ignored.

The original order is reversed on the law without costs. A Queens Family Lawyer said the petition will be reinstated and findings of neglect will be entered. The matter will be remanded for a dispositional hearing.

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