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Court Decides Adoption of a Minor

An Order of Disposition by Family Court of Bronx County was entered and adjudicated the appellant, a juvenile delinquent upon his admission in Westchester County Family Court. A New York Family Lawyer said he admitted that he committed an act that, if committed by an adult, would constitute the crime of grand larceny in the fourth degree, and placed him in the custody of the Office of Children and Family Services for a period of 18 months. The order was unanimously reversed on the law without costs, and the matter was remanded to Family Court of Bronx County for a new fact-finding hearing.

The Appellant juvenile delinquent is entitled to vacatur of his admission because the court failed to comply with the allocution requirements of Family Court Act which provides that at the initial appearance, the respondent shall admit or deny each charge contained in the petition unless the petition is dismissed or the proceeding otherwise terminated.

A New York Custody Lawyer said the allocution was inadequate because the court did not advise appellant that he had the rights to testify, call witnesses in his own behalf and confront witnesses against him. It is also found to be inadequate because the appellant was not advised of the presentment agency’s obligation to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Since the requirement is not waivable, preservation is not required.

In a related proceeding, an infant was born on October 14, 1989 and on October 26, 1990, after the Commissioner of Social Services of the City of New York transferred custodial responsibilities for the child to Family Support Services Systems Unlimited (Family Support), an authorized agency having its principal office in Bronx, the infant was placed with the petitioners, her maternal grandmother and her step-grandfather. A Nassau County Family Lawyer said the biological mother executed a judicial surrender relinquishing guardianship and child custody of her daughter to the Commissioner for purpose of adoption. The child’s biological father is unknown.

Thereafter, the petitioners and the baby moved to Florida. Family Support sought approval of the move through the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, and after evaluating the petitioners’ and the infant’s living conditions, the Deputy Compact Administrator for Florida approved the move.

A Nassau County Custody Lawyer said that in pursuing the infant’s adoption, the petitioners executed and the New York State Department of Social Services approved their application for adoption subsidy and entered into an agreement. The Commissioner transferred legal child custody of the infant to Family Support which, in turn, secured clearance of the petitioners from New York and Florida. The petitioners executed an adoption petition and Family Support executed an Agreement of Adoption and Consent and Verified Schedule. These, besides documents verifying the petitioners’ marital status and updated medical reports for themselves and the infant, were filed with the Bronx Family Court, and the matter calendared for June 15, 1994. The Family Court dismissed the petition on that date holding that Florida had a greater public policy interest than New York and that the petitioners should file for adoption in the former state.

Domestic Relations Law 113 provides in pertinent part that an authorized agency may consent to the adoption of a minor whose custody and guardianship has been transferred to such agency. The agreement of adoption shall be executed by such authorized agency. The proceeding shall be instituted in the county where the adoptive parents reside or, if such adoptive parents do not reside in this state, in the county where such authorized agency has its principal office.

Accordingly, the statute clearly contemplates the situation where the adoptive child resides with adoptive parents out of the state, and the instant adoption proceeding was properly commenced in the Family Court, Bronx County, since the authorized agency has its principal office in that county. Since the authorized agency Family Support had its principal office in the Bronx, the Family Court did have jurisdiction over the adoption and, therefore, improperly dismissed the petition.

Couples who adopt to give that child not just a better life but a family to love and take care of them are like angels sent by the heavens. If you and your partner are contemplating on adopting a child and having some problems on the procedure, find a Bronx County Family Lawyer together with the Bronx County Child Custody Attorney from Stephen Bilkis and Associates.

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