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Court Terminates Parental Rights

The Facts of the Case:

On or about 8 June 2009, the Family Court of Bronx County issued an order which, among others, upon a finding of permanent neglect, terminated respondent father’s parental rights to the subject child and committed his custody and guardianship to petitioner agency and the Commissioner of Social Services for the purpose of adoption. A New York Family Lawyer said in appeal to the said decision followed.

The Issues of the Case:

The primordial question that must be resolved by the court is whether or not respondent father permanently neglected his son, the subject child, so as to award the petition for adoption to petitioner and the Commissioner of Social Services. A New York Custody Lawyer said along with this issue are questions of whether or not respondent father’s failure to maintain contact with the subject child was excused by reason of his incarceration; whether or not respondent father’s failure to obtain for the subject child’s housing constituted neglect; whether or not respondent father was denied of his right to due process because he was deprived of his right to be physically present at the dispositional hearing; and whether or not the lower court erred in denying respondent father’s request to call the foster mother as a witness.

The Ruling of the Court:

A Bronx Family Lawyer said here, the court finds clear and convincing evidence supporting the Family Court’s determination that despite the agency’s diligent efforts, respondent father permanently neglected his son; that although respondent father was required to maintain contact with the subject child through consistent and regular visitation, he failed to do so and did not offer any viable excuse for his failure to visit his son from June 2006, after the case conference, until October 2006, when he was incarcerated.

First, respondent father’s incarceration during the statutory period did not relieve him of his responsibility to communicate with his child. A Bronx Custody Lawyer said while it is true that respondent father did establish contact once with the agency via a March 2007 telephone call and a visit between his son, and his children with his fiancé, was scheduled, the meeting was never attended. Second, respondent father’s duty to plan did not abate with his incarceration, and he failed to plan for his child’s future by not obtaining appropriate housing. Third, respondent father was not denied his due process rights when the court denied his request to adjourn the dispositional hearing so that he could be present in person rather than by telephone, as respondent father participated in the fact-finding hearing via telephone and failed to demonstrate a compelling reason for further delay of the proceedings. Fourth, equally unavailing is respondent father’s argument that it was an error to preclude him from calling the foster mother as a witness to testify with regard to an incident that occurred in her home between a former foster child and another child, since the subject child was not present at the time of the incident, where the foster mother was subsequently found without fault, and any further testimony was irrelevant to the purpose of the dispositional hearing.
Clearly, by a preponderance of the evidence, the termination of respondent father’s parental rights was in the subject child’s best interests. Upon a review of the records of the case, the court finds that the subject child’s best chance for a stable family life lies in his adoption by his foster mother, in whose care he has been since he was two years old and who tends to his needs.

In sum, the order of the Family Court finding permanent neglect, terminating respondent father’s parental right to the subject child and committing his custody and guardianship to petitioner agency and the Commissioner of Social Services for the purpose of adoption is affirmed, without costs.

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