Articles Posted in Guardianship Law

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Guardianship of a child in New York involves the legal authority granted to an individual or entity to make important decisions regarding the care, welfare, and upbringing of a child who is not their biological or adoptive child. This authority is typically granted by a court and is necessary when the child’s parents are unable or unwilling to fulfill their parental responsibilities adequately.

A guardian assumes responsibility for the child’s physical, emotional, and financial well-being, including providing food, shelter, medical care, education, and guidance. Guardianship grants the guardian the authority to make decisions on behalf of the child, such as healthcare choices, educational enrollment, and participation in extracurricular activities. The guardian is also responsible for ensuring that the child’s basic needs are met and that they receive appropriate support and supervision.

In Nicole L. v. David M., 195 A.D.3d 1058 (N.Y. App. Div. 2021), a case heard by the Family Court of Columbia County, the court evaluated competing claims for custody and guardianship of a young child following the tragic death of her mother. The case involved multiple parties, including the child’s father, maternal aunt, and the mother’s former live-in boyfriend.

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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 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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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.

Background Facts

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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 case involves an appeal from an amended order of fact-finding and disposition by the Family Court, Kings County, regarding allegations of neglect against the mother of two children, India G. and Madison G. The order, issued in November 2018, placed the mother under the supervision of the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) for three months. The appeal questions the finding of neglect against the mother and the subsequent placement under ACS supervision.

The ACS is the New York City agency responsible for safeguarding the welfare of children and families within the city. It operates under the jurisdiction of the New York City government and is tasked with various responsibilities related to child protection, foster care, adoption services, and juvenile justice.

ACS works to ensure that children in New York City are safe from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. It investigates reports of suspected child abuse or neglect, provides services to families in need of support, and, when necessary, places children in foster care or other out-of-home placements to ensure their safety and well-being.

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Guardianship in New York involves a legal arrangement where someone, known as a guardian, is appointed to make decisions on behalf of an individual who is unable to make decisions independently. This often arises in situations where the person, called the ward, faces challenges due to age, disability, or other incapacitating factors.

For adults, guardianship typically comes into play when an individual is deemed incapable of managing their personal and financial affairs. This could be due to intellectual disabilities, mental health issues, or other conditions that hinder their decision-making abilities.

In contrast, guardianship for children involves a legal relationship where an adult is appointed to care for and make decisions for a minor. This might happen when parents are unable to fulfill their parental responsibilities, either due to incapacity, death, or other circumstances.

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Custody cases are not always between parents. A substantial number of cases heard by Family Court in New York involve other relatives, including grandparents. In the Matter of Chariss C. v Jose G., the court was asked to decide whether to grant the petitioning grandmother guardianship over her two grandchildren or grant the children’s mother sole custody and guardianship.

Background

While residing at the petitioner grandmother’s house, the mother, Respondent Courtney C. gave birth to two Children. The children were born in 2010 and 2013. The father, Respondent Jose G., was rarely involved in the lives of the children and did not support them. The grandmother and her husband primarily financially provided for the children and provided for their educational needs as well as food and housing.

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