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In re Aisha R., 2023 N.Y. Slip Op. 23174 (N.Y. Fam. Ct. 2023)


Neglect, as defined under Article 10 of the Family Court Act, refers to a failure to provide proper care for a child. This can include a lack of food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, or supervision necessary for the child’s well-being. Neglect can also involve exposing a child to conditions or environments that may harm their physical, mental, or emotional health.

In determining neglect, the court considers whether a parent or guardian’s actions or omissions have caused, or are likely to cause, harm to the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health. It’s not just about intentional harm but also about a failure to provide necessary care or protection.

The standard for neglect is based on what a reasonable and prudent parent would do in similar circumstances. It’s not about perfection, but rather about meeting the basic needs of the child and ensuring their safety and well-being.

Neglect can take various forms, from physical neglect, such as inadequate food or shelter, to educational neglect, where a child is not provided with appropriate schooling. It can also include emotional neglect, where a child’s emotional needs are not met, or medical neglect, where necessary medical care is not provided.

In In re Aisha R., 2023 N.Y. Slip Op. 23174 (N.Y. Fam. Ct. 2023), the court considered whether the actions of the father amounted to neglect.

Background Facts
The Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) filed petitions alleging neglect by Ariel T., claiming he perpetrated domestic violence against their mother, Taisha R., in the presence of their children. Mr. T. moves to dismiss the petitions, arguing that ACS failed to establish a cause of action under CPLR § 3211(a)(7). The court reviews response papers from the attorney for the children but none from the petitioner. While failure to respond could lead to dismissal, the court has a duty to consider the motion’s merits.

ACS alleges Mr. T. is the father of Aria (3 months old) and Arielle (2.5 years old), and legally responsible for their sister Aisha (5). Despite ACS’s desire to withdraw the petition, the court considers the motion. Mr. T. argues the allegations are insufficient to show neglect or imminent risk. The attorney for the children opposes dismissal for some allegations but agrees others lack specificity regarding harm to the children.

The issue before the court was whether the allegations presented in the petition, which detailed instances of domestic violence, coercive control, and neglect by Mr. T. towards Ms. R. and their children, met the standard to proceed with the case under Article 10 of the Family Court Act. Specifically, the court had to determine if these allegations were sufficient to deny Mr. T.’s motion to dismiss under § 3211(a)(7) of the Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR), which allows for the dismissal of a claim if the pleading fails to state a cause of action.

The motion to dismiss under § 3211(a)(7) is denied. The allegations in the petition meet the standard to proceed with the case.

The allegations paint a concerning picture of domestic violence and control exerted by Mr. T. over Ms. R. and their children. Arielle’s repetition of derogatory language learned from Mr. T. highlights the inappropriate environment for a child of her age and its potential long-term effects on her relationship with her mother. Furthermore, Mr. T.’s alleged use of the children as tools to control Ms. R. poses a significant risk to both her and the children’s well-being. By restricting Ms. R.’s access to essential documents and resources, Mr. T. creates conditions that inhibit her ability to care for the children adequately. This, coupled with alleged emotional and psychological abuse, further compounds the detrimental effects on the children’s development and Ms. R.’s ability to provide a nurturing environment.

The nature of the coercive and controlling behavior described in the petition underscores the severity of the situation. It creates a hostile and fearful environment for both Ms. R. and the children, undermining their emotional and psychological well-being. Such behavior goes beyond mere undesirable parental conduct and can be characterized as neglect, as it significantly impairs the children’s welfare and development.

Respondent’s arguments attempting to diminish the significance of the allegations by seeking specific incidents or questioning the relevance of certain events are unavailing. The pattern of coercive behavior described in the petition, regardless of specific dates or times, demonstrates a consistent and ongoing threat to the safety and well-being of Ms. R. and the children.

Additionally, the significant age difference between Mr. T. and Ms. R., coupled with the circumstances of their relationship’s initiation, raises concerns about power dynamics and potential vulnerabilities exploited by Mr. T.

The allegations in the petition, when viewed in the light most favorable to the petitioner, establish a cause of action for neglect under Article 10 of the Family Court Act. The motion to dismiss is therefore denied, and the case is scheduled for a fact-finding hearing to further assess the situation and determine appropriate measures to protect the welfare of Ms. R. and the children.

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