There are perhaps few things in this world more agonizing for a parent than an allegation of abuse or neglect of a child.
It's true the state has a veritable interest in protecting children from caregivers who are cruel or fail to meet their needs. However, our Brooklyn ACS attorneys have become familiar with a number of cases in which good parents were either falsely accused or made a genuine mistake for which they were thereafter held to unrealistic expectations in order to regain custody.
No matter what the situation, effectively appealing an indicated ACS finding of abuse or neglect will require strong representation from a legal team with extensive experience in the field.
The recent case of In re: K.N.D., reviewed by the Texas Supreme Court, provides a solid example of the uphill battle parents face.
In this case, the mother appealed a family court decision to terminate her parental rights to her infant daughter and make the state the sole conservator of her daughter's care. While the appellate court upheld the state's appointment as sole managing conservator, it reversed the judgment terminating the mother's parental rights, deeming the evidence legally insufficient. However, the state supreme court reversed that ruling on the basis of the mother's care of her previous child.
According to court records, caseworkers with the state filed a referral to the court against the mother for neglectful supervision - just one day after the woman had given birth, and while she was still in the hospital. The woman was 37 weeks pregnant when she went into labor with the child, after reportedly falling down (or possibly being pushed) during an altercation with a male roommate.
Caseworkers indicated that the woman was a prostitute, living with both her pimp and another prostitute. Her female roommate told investigators that the pregnant woman had gotten into an argument with the pimp, he put his hands around her neck and she ran from him, causing her to fall.
An apartment worker would later tell investigators he had witnessed the incident and that after the pregnant woman managed to get up and run into the apartment, the male kicked in the door. He had to be forcibly removed by police while the woman was transported by ambulance to the hospital, where she gave birth.
Two weeks prior to that incident, the mother had voluntarily relinquished her parental rights to an older child because she stated she could not care for the child. This was reportedly after the court made numerous demands for her compliance, which she failed to meet.
However, she had made no indication that she couldn't or wouldn't care for this child.
The appellate court found that for this reason, the evidence was not sufficient enough to justify terminating her parental rights.
However, in the state supreme court's reversal and order to remand, the justices indicated that a reviewing court can weigh a parent's history with and care of other children as a possible factor of risks or threat of the environment. So her rights to the baby girl were terminated - even though the child had only been in her care for less than one day in a hospital setting.
The state of New York takes termination of parental rights quite seriously, but parents should still prepare for a fight. Spiteful exes (or other relatives) and overzealous case workers can be a tough match.
Some of the grounds upon which a judge can revoke parental rights include:
- Permanent abandonment of the child for at least on year by failing to maintain contact with the child and plan for the future;
- Legal abandonment of the child for at least six months;
- Severe or repeated abuse of the child;
- The presence of a mental illness that would prevent a parent from caring for the child.
Overcoming allegations of this nature can be an enormous challenge. To learn more about how we can help, call us today.
To fight Brooklyn ACS allegations, call the offices of George M. Gilmer at (718) 864-2011.
In re: K.N.D., Jan. 17, 2014, Texas Supreme Court
More Blog Entries:
Brooklyn Child Support Attorneys Can Help Establish Voluntary Underemployment, Jan. 15, 2014, Brooklyn ACS Case Attorney Blog