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New York Courts Discuss on What Constitutes Child Neglect


On September 29, 2008, a petition was put before the Family Court of Tioga County to have a certain child classified as a neglected child under Family Law. What would this mean and how did it come about?

The child was born in 2005. In 2007, his biological parents began living together, and were later married. On April 16, 2008, a report was filed alleging that the husband had committed domestic violence against his wife twice, in the presence of the child.

After an investigation, the individual who filed the petition explained that because the domestic violence had been committed in the child’s presence, the husband neglected his child. Also, reports showed that the husband had a history of neglect against other children who were formerly in his household. He had also sexually abused the child of a woman he had lived with, and no longer had parental rights to two of his biological children. He also had a long history of violence involving the women in his past relationships.

During the hearing, after the charges were presented by the petitioner, the man’s lawyers did not object and instead asked that they “move straight to a dispositional hearing”. After the discussion, the Family Court found that the father had neglected his child issued a permanent order of protection which prevented him from ever having any contact with the child. The father appealed against the allegation and the order of protection.

The father also claimed that the Family Court did not strictly follow the requirements of the law during his first appearance at court. In reviewing this case, the Court of Appeals found that although the charges brought against the father were not recited, the Family Court made sure that the man had a lawyer present and that he was told about future proceedings. He was also allowed to ask questions about the petition so that he could understand what it was about. Therefore, the Court of Appeals found that although the Family Court made a mistake in this part, the error is not important enough that the decision should be reversed.

Next, the father claimed that the Family Court’s decision to find him guilty of neglecting his child was improper because the evidence used was documentation about past abuse and neglect only. However, in cases involving domestic violence, evidence that one child is abused or neglected is enough to prove that another is also abused or neglected. While it is not the only basis for determining if a child is neglected or not, in this case, the father’s long history of past neglect proves that he does not understand his duties of parenthood. Therefore, in this case, proof that he had abused or neglected his other child is enough to prove that he had abused or neglected this child.

The law defines neglect as any act which harms or puts in immediate harm, a child’s physical, mental, or emotional condition, as a result of the parent or guardian’s failure to exercise a minimum degree of care. Thus, the Court of Appeals arrived at its decision to ignore the father’s appeal.

The intricacies of law can be quite confusing. Add to that to all the requirements, procedures, and costs involved in a court case and you have the recipe for a massive headache. With the right sort of team though, you can weather this storm. Stephen Bilkis & Associates, together with its team of experienced and excellent lawyers, can provide you with the advice, support, and guidance that you need.

They have an office in Corona, New York, and many others conveniently located around the state so contacting them is very easy.

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