Posts tagged with "dcf matters"

Courts Rule that “Personal Rehabilitation” Must Be Achieved Within a Reasonably Foreseeable Period of Time

In a recently released decision, the Connecticut Appellate Court upheld the termination of a mother’s parental rights in large part because she failed to achieve a degree of personal rehabilitation as would encourage a belief that, within a reasonable time, she could assume a responsible position in her child’s life. The trial court record demonstrated that the mother had a very long history of alcohol abuse, which originally led to DCF’s involvement in the case. In fact, the mother was arrested on several occasions for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. On one such occasion, her two children were in the vehicle, which resulted in charges for risk of injury to a minor. Following a subsequent incident in which a DCF worker found the mother intoxicated at a foster home with her two children, the Department invoked a 96-hour hold. Shortly thereafter, the Court adjudicated both children neglected.

Following her release from a term of imprisonment, the mother took significant steps to rehabilitate. She attended a four week program aimed at personal development, employment skills and team building; completed a mental health and substance abuse program; participated in individual counseling at women’s trauma groups; obtained a job with her former employer as a certified nurse’s aide; and was attending Alcoholics Anonymous.

In reviewing the mother’s claim that her efforts constituted sufficient rehabilitation, the Court explained that under Connecticut law, personal rehabilitation refers to the restoration of a parent to his or her former constructive and useful role as a parent in light of the needs of the particular child. Importantly, sufficient rehabilitation must be foreseeable within a reasonable time. In assessing rehabilitation, the critical issue is not whether the parent has improved her ability to manage her own life, but rather, whether she has gained the ability to care for the particular needs of the child at issue. In affirming the trial court’s decision, the Appellate Court noted that the evidence demonstrated the mother would need to remain sober, and seek treatment for several years before she could function independently on a day-to-day basis. Indeed, as one expert testified, the mother would require a period of rehabilitation lasting three years, if not greater, to establish not only the sobriety, but also the personal resources to deal with significant life stressors without decompensating again.

Based on evidence that the mother would need to maintain sobriety for several years before it could be determined with a reasonable level of psychological certainty that she could remain sober, and a reliable parent, the Court held that the trial court did not err in determining the mother failed to achieve personal rehabilitation.

Should you have any questions regarding DCF matters, or family matters generally, please do not hesitate to contact Michael D. DeMeola, Esq. He can be reached by telephone 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.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a divorce law attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free divorce consultation as well as free consultation on all other familial matters. Divorce in CT and divorce in NYC is difficult, but education is power. Call our family law office in CT today.

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Courts May Substantiate Physical Neglect in the Absence of an Adverse Impact on the Child

Cases involving the Department of Children and Families typically involve relatively serious allegations of physical and/or emotional neglect. However, as the following case illustrates, even conduct that does not result in physical or emotional harm to a child can lead to very serious consequences.

In this particular case, the plaintiff was an employee at a safe home located in the Hartford, Connecticut area, and was responsible for watching over children. One August afternoon, the plaintiff took a small group of children bowling. During the outing, he made three additional stops, each time leaving the children alone in the car. During the first stop, which lasted just a couple of minutes, the children were visible from within the store, and the plaintiff stepped outside periodically to confirm contact with them. He was able to observe the children during the second stop as well; however, at times, the car was obscured from his view. The plaintiff was in the second store for approximately two minutes. During the third and final stop, the plaintiff went into a grocery store, leaving the children in a covered parking area such that they were not visible at all from within the store. The plaintiff never left the keys in the car, and the children reported that, although it was hot in the vehicle, they were never scared or fearful when the plaintiff was gone.

The hearing officer upheld the substantiation of physical neglect on the basis that the plaintiff failed to provide adequate supervision for the three children by leaving them alone in the vehicle. The hearing officer stated that “to support a finding of physical neglect, DCF must demonstrate that the plaintiff acted in a neglectful manner toward the children” and, absent a specific adverse impact, must demonstrate that the plaintiff’s behavior was “so egregious it demonstrated a serious disregard for the children’s welfare.”

On appeal, the reviewing court held that the hearing officer was correct in concluding the plaintiff was neglectful. The Court relied in part on the fact that the plaintiff admitted to a DCF investigator he had acted irresponsibly and had made a “mistake.” Although the court conceded the children were not adversely impacted, it nevertheless agreed with the hearing officer that even in the absence of an adverse impact, if a single incident demonstrates a serious disregard for the children’s welfare, DCF may make a finding of physical neglect. The court further found that although the first two times the children were left for short periods and in the plaintiff’s plain view, the third time he left them in a limited access parking lot, which the hearing officer could reasonably conclude was inappropriate and showed a “serious disregard” as it was still uncomfortable in the van, and the children were exposed to harm from third parties. The court also noted that the hearing officer could reasonably conclude that the plaintiff showed “serious disregard” because he had a special duty to protect the children, already committed to DCF and assigned to his care.

Should you have any questions regarding DCF matters, or family matters generally, please do not hesitate to contact Michael D. DeMeola. He can be reached by telephone in the firm’s Westport office at (203) 221-3100, or by e-mail at mdemeola@mayalaw.com.
________________________________________________________________________________
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.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a divorce law attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free divorce consultation as well as free consultation on all other familial matters. Divorce in CT and divorce in NYC is difficult, but education is power. Call our family law office in CT today.

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