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Court Terminates Respondent’s Parental Rights

First Case:

On or about 20 December 2010, a Family Court in Bronx County issued an order which, upon the mother’s default at a combined fact-finding and dispositional hearing, terminated the mother’s parental rights to the subject child upon a finding of permanent neglect, and committed custody and guardianship of the child to petitioner agency and the Commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services for the purpose of adoption. A New York Family Lawyer said that thereafter, the respondent mother moved to vacate the order of disposition. On or about 21 March 2011, the same court denied the said motion. Thus, an appeal of the said denial followed.

The court finds that the denial must be affirmed, without costs; the appeal must be dismissed, without costs, as taken from a non-appealable paper.

In the case at bar, the mother’s motion to vacate her default was properly denied by reason of the fact that she failed to demonstrate a reasonable excuse for her nonappearance at the hearing and a meritorious defense to the neglect petition. A New York Custody Lawyer said the mother’s claim that she had a fair notice hearing concerning her public assistance benefits that conflicted with the fact-finding and dispositional hearings fails to explain why she made no effort to schedule the fair notice hearing at a different time since she was aware of the date of the fact-finding hearing prior to the time the fair notice hearing was set. The agency here clearly established that it exerted diligent efforts to reunite the mother with the child, including providing the mother with numerous referrals to drug treatment and other programs, mental health evaluations, and visitation. However, despite these efforts, the mother failed to complete any portion of the service plan. To the extent the mother appeals from the order of disposition, no appeal lies from an order entered on default.

Second Case:

On or about 8 September 2010, a Family Court in Bronx County issued another order which revoked a suspended judgment entered on a finding of abandonment, terminated respondent mother’s parental rights to the subject child, and committed the custody and guardianship of the child to petitioner and the Commissioner of Social Services for the purposes of adoption. An appeal from the said order of the court thereafter followed.

The court finds that the order must be affirmed, without costs.

A Queens Family Lawyer said in the case at bar, the finding that respondent violated the terms of the suspended judgment is supported by a preponderance of the evidence. Respondent was required, inter alia, to submit to random drug testing and remain free of illicit substances, maintain regular and consistent supervised visitation, and obtain and maintain a source of income and suitable housing for herself and the child. However, shortly after the suspended judgment was granted, respondent was convicted of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, and sentenced to 2 1/2 years’ incarceration. Moreover, respondent failed to maintain contact with her child for four months after she was incarcerated, which failure is not excused by her incarceration. A Queens Custody Lawyer said thatc learly and evidently, the Family Court’s finding that termination of respondent’s parental rights is in the child’s best interests is supported by a preponderance of the evidence showing that respondent would remain incarcerated until after the period of the suspended judgment had expired, and that the child’s kinship foster mother has been providing quality care for the child, wants to adopt her, and has been trained to handle her special needs.

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