In a recent decision involving the Department of Children and Families, the Court overruled the respondent mother’s objection to a proposed permanency plan that included termination of parental rights and adoption. At the time of the hearing, the children were fourteen and eleven years old. They both had special educational needs and were victims of sexual and physical abuse. In 2005, they were taken into the custody of DCF after the Court granted an Order of Temporary Custody, or OTC. Although the commitment was later revoked and the children returned to the mother’s care, they were eventually recommitted to the Department pursuant to a second OTC granted approximately two years later.
In overruling the mother’s objection, the Court noted that it is required to approve a permanency plan that is in the best interests of the child and takes into consideration the child’s need for permanency. In considering a permanency plan, the child’s health and safety are of paramount concern. From an evidentiary standpoint, the judicial authority must find that the proposed goal of the permanency plan is in the best interests of the child by a fair preponderance of the evidence.
In this particular case, the Court considered the testimony of three expert witnesses, as well as evidence which established that both children were the victims of repeated sexual and physical abuse. The Court further found that the parents failed to adequately acknowledge the abuse or the children’s special needs despite ample time and services. Finally, the Court found that the children had been in foster care for over three years and felt a sense of well-being, safety and comfort in the home. Based on those findings, the Court ultimately held that the permanency plan, including termination of parental rights, was in the children’s best interests.
Should you have any questions related to DCF proceedings, or family matters generally, please feel free to contact Michael D. DeMeola. He practices in the firm’s Westport office and can be reached at (203) 221-3100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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