From FB; Conn. decision makes it easy for govt to remove kids from decent parents

take a look at what a 2013 Conn. case says about removing children from parents. They claim only a 10% predicative risk to a child should establish child removal.  This comes at at time when studies show risk of physical, emotional and even sexual abuse is many times higher when kids are removed and placed in a foster environment or even a  group home for older kids.

Supreme Court Establishes New Standard in Predictive Neglect Cases

This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case or Divorce and Family Law, please contact Joseph Maya and the other experienced attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. today. Call us at (203) 221-3100 or by email at JMaya@Mayalaw.com, to schedule a free initial consultation.

In a recent decision involving the Department of Children and Families, the Connecticut Supreme Court established a new standard governing the doctrine of predictive neglect, overturning precedent which the Appellate Court previously established in In re Kamari C-L.  In the matter of In re Joseph W., the Department of Children and Families pursued neglect petitions against the parents of two minor children.  After trial, the court found that both children were in fact “neglected” under the doctrine of predictive neglect.  From a factual standpoint, the trial court based its decision primarily on the mother’s long term mental health issues and failure to comply with treatment plans, as well as the father’s noncompliance with DCF requirements and inability to recognize the mother’s problems.  The trial court essentially concluded that under the doctrine of predictive neglect both children were “at risk” for harm.  On appeal, the father claimed that DCF should have been required to satisfy a more burdensome standard.

In reviewing the doctrine of predictive neglect, the Supreme Court explained that DCF need not wait until a child is actually harmed before intervening to protect that child.  As the Supreme Court stated, “Our statutes clearly and explicitly recognize the state’s authority to act before harm occurs to protect children whose health and welfare may be adversely affected and not just children whose welfare has been affected.”  The Court explained, “The doctrine of predictive neglect is grounded in the state’s responsibility to avoid harm to the well-being of a child, not to repair it after a tragedy has occurred… Thus, [a] finding of neglect is not necessarily predicated on actual harm, but can exist when there is a potential risk of neglect…”

Under the standard set forth in In re Kamari C-L, DCF could establish its case merely by proving by a preponderance of the evidence the existence of a “potential risk” of neglect. However, as the Supreme Court noted, under this standard, DCF could theoretically prevail even if there was only a 10% chance of future harm to a child.  According to the Supreme Court, the “potential risk” standard gives insufficient weight to the “combined family integrity interests of parent and child.”

In formulating a more burdensome standard, the Court held that in predictive neglect cases, the trial court must find with respect to each parent that, if the child were to remain in that parent’s independent care, the child would be denied proper care and attention, physically, educationally, emotionally or morally, or would be permitted to live under conditions, circumstances or associations injurious to the well-being of the child or youth.  Where parents will be caring for the child together, the trial court may treat the parents as a single unit in determining whether DCF has met its burden of proving predictive neglect.

Should you have any questions regarding the foregoing, or DCF matters generally, please feel free to contact Attorney Michael D. DeMeola, Esq. directly.  He can be reached in the firm’s Westport office at (203) 221-3100, or by e-mail at mdemeola@mayalaw.com.

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Our family law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best divorce attorneys and family attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut divorce or New York divorce today.

 

DCFS and Foster Care and child removal is in a crisis mode right now.  Judges have to act very carefully before removing kids from a home.

Furthermore the removal of parents from a child’s life can be very traumatic even if the foster home placement is good. Courts should consider allowing open adoptions if the parties agree.  Adoption registries should be provided for when the children turn 18 they can find their parents.  Ancestry.com and other websites are now allowing children to reconnect with parents and some of them are pretty darned ticked off that there was no open adoption so parents and children can communicate.

Lots of better ideas to consider.

Joanne

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