In a recent opinion, a New York court considered whether the dismissal of a petition alleging that two guardians of a minor engaged in neglect and corporal punishment was appropriate.
In October 2016, the Administration of Child Services (ACS) initiated an Article 10 proceeding on behalf of a minor against her paternal uncle and grandmother. Under New York law, all matters involving neglect are governed by Article 10 and heard exclusively in Family Court. The petition alleged that the grandmother and uncle were charged with overseeing the child’s care pursuant to the Family Court Act and that the defendants failed to meet their duty. The petition also alleged that the defendants engaged in neglect and inflicted corporal punishment on the minor. More specifically, the petition stated that the grandmother commanded the uncle to strike the minor four times after the child allegedly touched a cake. The petition claimed that the child’s legs showed marks and bruising. Ultimately, the defendants admitted that they no longer wished to care for the minor or to have her in their home.
The defendants denied the allegations during an appearance in court. The minor was ultimately remanded to the care of the commissioner. During another conference that took place in January 2017, the attorney for ACS stated that the defendants would undergo classes on parenting skills and be allowed to undertake supervised visits with the minor. The uncle rejected this plan, indicating that he did not intend to serve in a parental role regarding the minor. The grandmother also rejected the plan, wishing to terminate her relationship with the child.
Following the hearing, the defendants moved for summary judgment and sought a dismissal according to Family Court Rule 1051, which governs when a petition may be dismissed for a failure to state sufficient facts to sustain the petition. ACS responded, stating that multiple issues existed and arguing that the defendant’s lack of desire to care for the child did not automatically alleviate the need for a trial on the petition. ACS also argued that dismissing the petition would allow the defendants to go unpunished and that the minor would lack a permanent custody arrangement. A nonprofit organization also filed a response on behalf of the minor, claiming that a trial was necessary to adjudicate matters that would leave the minor in “legal limbo” if not resolved.
The court rejected the defendants’ motion to dismiss, finding that although ACS failed to submit sufficient evidence, there were several issues of triable fact in the record that required a hearing to address. The court indicated that it lacked sufficient information to determine whether the court’s intervention was appropriate and necessary. And, if the allegations against the defendants regarding neglect and corporal punishment were true, the minor child would face a risk of harm. Dismissing the petition would prevent ACS from presenting their case in full and describing why it contends the court should intervene.
If you are involved in a child custody dispute, seasoned and experienced New York child custody attorney Ingrid Gherman is prepared to assist you with asserting your rights. Issues involving child custody can be stressful and emotional. Our team of legal professionals has assisted many parents throughout New York and knows just what you are going through during this difficult time. We offer a consultation to help you learn more about your legal rights and options. Call us now at 212-941-0767 or contact us online to set up your appointment.