New York Social Services Section 384-b - Guardianship And Custody Of Destitute Or Dependent Children; Commitment By Court Order; Modification Of Commitment And Restoration Of Parental Rights.

384-b. Guardianship and custody of destitute or dependent children; commitment by court order; modification of commitment and restoration of parental rights.

1. Statement of legislative findings and intent.

(a) The legislature recognizes that the health and safety of children is of paramount importance. To the extent it is consistent with the health and safety of the child, the legislature further hereby finds that:

(i) it is desirable for children to grow up with a normal family life in a permanent home and that such circumstance offers the best opportunity for children to develop and thrive;

(ii) it is generally desirable for the child to remain with or be returned to the birth parent because the child's need for a normal family life will usually best be met in the home of its birth parent, and that parents are entitled to bring up their own children unless the best interests of the child would be thereby endangered;

(iii) the state's first obligation is to help the family with services to prevent its break-up or to reunite it if the child has already left home; and

(iv) when it is clear that the birth parent cannot or will not provide a normal family home for the child and when continued foster care is not an appropriate plan for the child, then a permanent alternative home should be sought for the child.

(b) The legislature further finds that many children who have been placed in foster care experience unnecessarily protracted stays in such care without being adopted or returned to their parents or other custodians. Such unnecessary stays may deprive these children of positive, nurturing family relationships and have deleterious effects on their development into responsible, productive citizens. The legislature further finds that provision of a timely procedure for the termination, in appropriate cases, of the rights of the birth parents could reduce such unnecessary stays.

It is the intent of the legislature in enacting this section to provide procedures not only assuring that the rights of the birth parent are protected, but also, where positive, nurturing parent-child relationships no longer exist, furthering the best interests, needs, and rights of the child by terminating parental rights and freeing the child for adoption.

2. For the purposes of this section, (a) "child" shall mean a person under the age of eighteen years; and, (b) "parent" shall include an incarcerated parent unless otherwise qualified.

3. (a) The guardianship of the person and the custody of a destitute or dependent child may be committed to an authorized agency, or to a foster parent authorized pursuant to section one thousand eighty-nine of the family court act to institute a proceeding under this section, or to a relative with care and custody of the child, by order of a surrogate or judge of the family court, as hereinafter provided. Where such guardianship and custody is committed to a foster parent or to a relative with care and custody of the child, the family court or surrogate's court shall retain continuing jurisdiction over the parties and the child and may, upon its own motion or the motion of any party, revoke, modify or extend its order, if the foster parent or relative fails to institute a proceeding for the adoption of the child within six months after the entry of the order committing the guardianship and custody of the child to such foster parent or relative. Where the foster parent or relative institutes a proceeding for the adoption of the child and the adoption petition is finally denied or dismissed, the court which committed the guardianship and custody of the child to the foster parent or relative shall revoke the order of commitment. Where the court revokes an order committing the guardianship and custody of a child to a foster parent or relative, it shall commit the guardianship and custody of the child to an authorized agency.

(b) A proceeding under this section may be originated by an authorized agency or by a foster parent authorized to do so pursuant to section one thousand eighty-nine of the family court act or by a relative with care and custody of the child or, if an authorized agency ordered by the court to originate a proceeding under this section fails to do so within the time fixed by the court, by the child's attorney or guardian ad litem on the court's direction.

(c) Where a child was placed or continued in foster care pursuant to article ten, ten-A or ten-C of the family court act or section three hundred fifty-eight-a of this chapter, a proceeding under this section shall be originated in the family court in the county in which the proceeding pursuant to article ten, ten-A or ten-C of the family court act or section three hundred fifty-eight-a of this chapter was last heard and shall be assigned, wherever practicable, to the judge who last heard such proceeding. Where multiple proceedings are commenced under this section concerning a child and one or more siblings or half-siblings of such child, placed or continued in foster care with the same commissioner pursuant to section one thousand fifty-five, one thousand eighty-nine or one thousand ninety-five of the family court act, all of such proceedings may be commenced jointly in the family court in any county which last heard a proceeding under article ten, ten-A or ten-C of the family court act regarding any of the children who are the subjects of the proceedings under this section. In such instances, the case shall be assigned, wherever practicable, to the judge who last presided over such proceeding. In any other case, a proceeding under this section, including a proceeding brought in the surrogate's court, shall be originated in the county where either of the parents of the child reside at the time of the filing of the petition, if known, or, if such residence is not known, in the county in which the authorized agency has an office for the regular conduct of business or in which the child resides at the time of the initiation of the proceeding. To the extent possible, the court shall, when appointing an attorney for the child, appoint an attorney who has previously represented the child.

(c-1) Before hearing a petition under this section, the court in which the termination of parental rights petition has been filed shall ascertain whether the child is under the jurisdiction of a family court pursuant to a placement in a child protective or foster care proceeding or continuation in out-of-home care pursuant to a permanency hearing and, if so, which court exercised jurisdiction over the most recent proceeding. If the court determines that the child is under the jurisdiction of a different family court, the court in which the termination of parental rights petition was filed shall stay its proceeding for not more than thirty days and shall communicate with the court that exercised jurisdiction over the most recent proceeding. The communication shall be recorded or summarized on the record by the court in which the termination of parental rights petition was filed. Both courts shall notify the parties and child's attorney, if any, in their respective proceedings and shall give them an opportunity to present facts and legal argument or to participate in the communication prior to the issuance of a decision on jurisdiction. The court that exercised jurisdiction over the most recent proceeding shall determine whether it will accept or decline jurisdiction over the termination of parental rights petition. This determination of jurisdiction shall be incorporated into an order regarding jurisdiction that shall be issued by the court in which the termination of parental rights petition was filed within thirty days of such filing. If the court that exercised jurisdiction over the most recent proceeding determines that it should exercise jurisdiction over the termination of parental rights petition, the order shall require that the petition shall be transferred to that court forthwith but in no event more than thirty-five days after the filing of the petition. The petition shall be assigned, wherever practicable, to the judge who heard the most recent proceeding. If the court that exercised jurisdiction over the most recent proceeding declines to exercise jurisdiction over the adoption petition, the court in which the termination of parental rights petition was filed shall issue an order incorporating that determination and shall proceed forthwith.

(d) The family court shall have exclusive, original jurisdiction over any proceeding brought upon grounds specified in paragraph (c), (d) or (e) of subdivision four of this section, and the family court and surrogate's court shall have concurrent, original jurisdiction over any proceeding brought upon grounds specified in paragraph (a) or (b) of subdivision four of this section, except as provided in paragraphs (c) and (c-1) of this subdivision.

(e) A proceeding under this section is originated by a petition on notice served upon the child's parent or parents, the attorney for the child's parent or parents and upon such other persons as the court may in its discretion prescribe. Such notice shall inform the parents and such other persons that the proceeding may result in an order freeing the child for adoption without the consent of or notice to the parents or such other persons. Such notice also shall inform the parents and such other persons of their right to the assistance of counsel, including any right they may have to have counsel assigned by the court in any case where they are financially unable to obtain counsel. The petition shall set forth the names and last known addresses of all persons required to be given notice of the proceeding, pursuant to this section and section three hundred eighty-four-c of this title, and there shall be shown by the petition or by affidavit or other proof satisfactory to the court that there are no persons other than those set forth in the petition who are entitled to notice pursuant to the provisions of this section or of section three hundred eighty-four-c of this title. When the proceeding is initiated in family court service of the petition and other process shall be made in accordance with the provisions of section six hundred seventeen of the family court act, and when the proceeding is initiated in surrogate's court, service shall be made in accordance with the provisions of section three hundred seven of the surrogate's court procedure act. When the proceeding is initiated on the grounds of abandonment of a child less than one year of age at the time of the transfer of the care and custody of such child to a local social services official, the court shall take judicial notice of efforts to locate the child's parents or other known relatives or other persons legally responsible pursuant to paragraph (ii) of subdivision (b) of section one thousand fifty-five of the family court act.

(f) In any proceeding under this section in which the surrogate's court has exercised jurisdiction, the provisions of the surrogate's court procedure act shall apply to the extent that they do not conflict with the specific provisions of this section. In any proceeding under this section in which the family court has exercised jurisdiction, the provisions of articles one, two and eleven of the family court act shall apply to the extent that they do not conflict with the specific provisions of this section. In any proceeding under this section, the provisions and limitations of article thirty-one of the civil practice law and rules shall apply to the extent that they do not conflict with the specific provisions of this section. In determining any motion for a protective order, the court shall consider the need of the party for the discovery to assist in the preparation of the case and any potential harm to the child from the discovery. The court shall set a schedule for discovery to avoid unnecessary delay. Any proceeding originated in family court upon the ground specified in paragraph (d) of subdivision four of this section shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of part one of article six of the family court act.

(g) (i) An order committing the guardianship and custody of a child pursuant to this section shall be granted only upon a finding that one or more of the grounds specified in subdivision four of this section are based upon clear and convincing proof.

(ii) Where a proceeding has been properly commenced under this section by the filing of a petition before the eighteenth birthday of a child, an order committing the guardianship and custody of a child pursuant to this section upon a finding under subdivision four of this section shall be granted after the eighteenth birthday of a child where the child consents to such disposition.

(h) In any proceeding brought upon a ground set forth in paragraph (c) of subdivision four, neither the privilege attaching to confidential communications between husband and wife, as set forth in section forty-five hundred two of the civil practice law and rules, nor the physician-patient and related privileges, as set forth in section forty-five hundred four of the civil practice law and rules, nor the psychologist-client privilege, as set forth in section forty-five hundred seven of the civil practice law and rules, nor the social worker-client privilege, as set forth in section forty-five hundred eight of the civil practice law and rules, shall be a ground for excluding evidence which otherwise would be admissible.

(i) In a proceeding instituted by an authorized agency pursuant to the provisions of this section, proof of the likelihood that the child will be placed for adoption shall not be required in determining whether the best interests of the child would be promoted by the commitment of the guardianship and custody of the child to an authorized agency.

(j) The order and the papers upon which it was granted in a proceeding under this section shall be filed in the court, and a certified copy of such order shall also be filed in the office of the county clerk of the county in which such court is located, there to be recorded and to be inspected or examined in the same manner as a surrender instrument, pursuant to the provisions of section three hundred eighty-four of this chapter.

(k) Where the child is over fourteen years of age, the court may, in its discretion, consider the wishes of the child in determining whether the best interests of the child would be promoted by the commitment of the guardianship and custody of the child.

(l) (i) Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, whenever: the child shall have been in foster care for fifteen months of the most recent twenty-two months; or a court of competent jurisdiction has determined the child to be an abandoned child; or the parent has been convicted of a crime as set forth in subdivision eight of this section, the authorized agency having care of the child shall file a petition pursuant to this section unless based on a case by case determination: (A) the child is being cared for by a relative or relatives; or (B) the agency has documented in the most recent case plan, a copy of which has been made available to the court, a compelling reason for determining that the filing of a petition would not be in the best interest of the child; or (C) the agency has not provided to the parent or parents of the child such services as it deems necessary for the safe return of the child to the parent or parents, unless such services are not legally required; or (D) the parent or parents are incarcerated, or participating in a residential substance abuse treatment program, or the prior incarceration or participation of a parent or parents in a residential substance abuse treatment program is a significant factor in why the child has been in foster care for fifteen of the last twenty-two months, provided that the parent maintains a meaningful role in the child's life based on the criteria set forth in subparagraph (v) of this paragraph and the agency has not documented a reason why it would otherwise be appropriate to file a petition pursuant to this section.

(ii) For the purposes of this section, a compelling reason whereby a social services official is not required to file a petition for termination of parental rights in accordance with subparagraph (i) of this paragraph includes, but is not limited to, where:

(A) the child was placed into foster care pursuant to article three or seven of the family court act and a review of the specific facts and circumstances of the child's placement demonstrate that the appropriate permanency goal for the child is either (1) return to his or her parent or guardian or (2) discharge to independent living;

(B) the child has a permanency goal other than adoption;

(C) the child is fourteen years of age or older and will not consent to his or her adoption;

(D) there are insufficient grounds for filing a petition to terminate parental rights; or

(E) the child is the subject of a pending disposition under article ten of the family court act, except where such child is already in the custody of the commissioner of social services as a result of a proceeding other than the pending article ten proceeding, and a review of the specific facts and circumstances of the child's placement demonstrate that the appropriate permanency goal for the child is discharge to his or her parent or guardian.

(iii) For the purposes of this paragraph, the date of the child's entry into foster care is the earlier of sixty days after the date on which the child was removed from the home or the date the child was found by a court to be an abused or neglected child pursuant to article ten of the family court act.

(iv) In the event that the social services official or authorized agency having care and custody of the child fails to file a petition to terminate parental rights within sixty days of the time required by this section, or within ninety days of a court direction to file a proceeding not otherwise required by this section, such proceeding may be filed by the foster parent of the child without further court order or by the attorney for the child on the direction of the court. In the event of such filing the social services official or authorized agency having care and custody of the child shall be served with notice of the proceeding and shall join the petition.

(v) For the purposes of clause (D) of subparagraph (i) of this paragraph, an assessment of whether a parent maintains a meaningful role in his or her child's life shall be based on evidence, which may include the following: a parent's expressions or acts manifesting concern for the child, such as letters, telephone calls, visits, and other forms of communication with the child; efforts by the parent to communicate and work with the authorized agency, law guardian, foster parent, the court, and the parent's attorney or other individuals providing services to the parent, including correctional, mental health and substance abuse treatment program personnel for the purpose of complying with the service plan and repairing, maintaining or building the parent-child relationship; a positive response by the parent to the authorized agency's diligent efforts as defined in paragraph (f) of subdivision seven of this section; and whether the continued involvement of the parent in the child's life is in the child's best interest. In assessing whether a parent maintains a meaningful role in his or her child's life, the authorized agency shall gather input from individuals and agencies in a reasonable position to help make this assessment, including but not limited to, the authorized agency, law guardian, parent, child, foster parent or other individuals of importance in the child's life, and parent's attorney or other individuals providing services to the parent, including correctional, mental health and substance abuse treatment program personnel. The court may make an order directing the authorized agency to undertake further steps to aid in completing its assessment.

4. An order committing the guardianship and custody of a child pursuant to this section shall be granted only upon one or more of the following grounds:

(a) Both parents of the child are dead, and no guardian of the person of such child has been lawfully appointed; or

(b) The parent or parents, whose consent to the adoption of the child would otherwise be required in accordance with section one hundred eleven of the domestic relations law, abandoned such child for the period of six months immediately prior to the date on which the petition is filed in the court; or

(c) The parent or parents, whose consent to the adoption of the child would otherwise be required in accordance with section one hundred eleven of the domestic relations law, are presently and for the foreseeable future unable, by reason of mental illness or mental retardation, to provide proper and adequate care for a child who has been in the care of an authorized agency for the period of one year immediately prior to the date on which the petition is filed in the court; or

(d) The child is a permanently neglected child; or

(e) The parent or parents, whose consent to the adoption of the child would otherwise be required in accordance with section one hundred eleven of the domestic relations law, severely or repeatedly abused such child. Where a court has determined that reasonable efforts to reunite the child with his or her parent are not required, pursuant to the family court act or this chapter, a petition to terminate parental rights on the ground of severe abuse as set forth in subparagraph (iii) of paragraph (a) of subdivision eight of this section may be filed immediately upon such determination.

5. (a) For the purposes of this section, a child is "abandoned" by his parent if such parent evinces an intent to forego his or her parental rights and obligations as manifested by his or her failure to visit the child and communicate with the child or agency, although able to do so and not prevented or discouraged from doing so by the agency. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, such ability to visit and communicate shall be presumed.

(b) The subjective intent of the parent, whether expressed or otherwise, unsupported by evidence of the foregoing parental acts manifesting such intent, shall not preclude a determination that such parent has abandoned his or her child. In making such determination, the court shall not require a showing of diligent efforts, if any, by an authorized agency to encourage the parent to perform the acts specified in paragraph (a) of this subdivision.

6. (a) For the purposes of this section, "mental illness" means an affliction with a mental disease or mental condition which is manifested by a disorder or disturbance in behavior, feeling, thinking or judgment to such an extent that if such child were placed in or returned to the custody of the parent, the child would be in danger of becoming a neglected child as defined in the family court act.

(b) For the purposes of this section, "mental retardation" means subaverage intellectual functioning which originates during the developmental period and is associated with impairment in adaptive behavior to such an extent that if such child were placed in or returned to the custody of the parent, the child would be in danger of becoming a neglected child as defined in the family court act.

(c) The legal sufficiency of the proof in a proceeding upon the ground set forth in paragraph (c) of subdivision four of this section shall not be determined until the judge has taken the testimony of a psychologist, or psychiatrist, in accordance with paragraph (e) of this subdivision.

(d) A determination or order upon a ground set forth in paragraph (c) of subdivision four shall in no way affect any other right, or constitute an adjudication of the legal status of the parent.

(e) In every proceeding upon a ground set forth in paragraph (c) of subdivision four the judge shall order the parent to be examined by, and shall take the testimony of, a qualified psychiatrist or a psychologist licensed pursuant to article one hundred fifty-three of the education law as defined in section 730.10 of the criminal procedure law in the case of a parent alleged to be mentally ill or retarded, such psychologist or psychiatrist to be appointed by the court pursuant to section thirty-five of the judiciary law. The parent and the authorized agency shall have the right to submit other psychiatric, psychological or medical evidence. If the parent refuses to submit to such court-ordered examination, or if the parent renders himself unavailable therefor whether before or after the initiation of a proceeding under this section, by departing from the state or by concealing himself therein, the appointed psychologist or psychiatrist, upon the basis of other available information, including, but not limited to, agency, hospital or clinic records, may testify without an examination of such parent, provided that such other information affords a reasonable basis for his opinion.

7. (a) For the purposes of this section, "permanently neglected child" shall mean a child who is in the care of an authorized agency and whose parent or custodian has failed for a period of either at least one year or fifteen out of the most recent twenty-two months following the date such child came into the care of an authorized agency substantially and continuously or repeatedly to maintain contact with or plan for the future of the child, although physically and financially able to do so, notwithstanding the agency's diligent efforts to encourage and strengthen the parental relationship when such efforts will not be detrimental to the best interests of the child. The court shall consider the special circumstances of an incarcerated parent or parents, or of a parent or parents participating in a residential substance abuse treatment program, when determining whether a child is a "permanently neglected child" as defined in this paragraph. In such cases, the court also shall consider the particular constraints, including but not limited to, limitations placed on family contact and the unavailability of social or rehabilitative services to aid in the development of a meaningful relationship between the parent and his or her child, that may impact the parent's ability to substantially and continuously or repeatedly maintain contact with his or her child and to plan for the future of his or her child as defined in paragraph (c) of this subdivision. Where a court has previously determined in accordance with paragraph (b) of subdivision three of section three hundred fifty-eight-a of this chapter or section one thousand thirty-nine-b, subparagraph (A) of paragraph (i) of subdivision (b) of section one thousand fifty-two, paragraph (b) of subdivision two of section seven hundred fifty-four or paragraph (c) of subdivision two of section 352.2 of the family court act that reasonable efforts to make it possible for the child to return safely to his or her home are not required, the agency shall not be required to demonstrate diligent efforts as defined in this section. In the event that the parent defaults after due notice of a proceeding to determine such neglect, such physical and financial ability of such parent may be presumed by the court.

(b) For the purposes of paragraph (a) of this subdivision, evidence of insubstantial or infrequent contacts by a parent with his or her child shall not, of itself, be sufficient as a matter of law to preclude a determination that such child is a permanently neglected child. A visit or communication by a parent with the child which is of such character as to overtly demonstrate a lack of affectionate and concerned parenthood shall not be deemed a substantial contact.

(c) As used in paragraph (a) of this subdivision, "to plan for the future of the child" shall mean to take such steps as may be necessary to provide an adequate, stable home and parental care for the child within a period of time which is reasonable under the financial circumstances available to the parent. The plan must be realistic and feasible, and good faith effort shall not, of itself, be determinative. In determining whether a parent has planned for the future of the child, the court may consider the failure of the parent to utilize medical, psychiatric, psychological and other social and rehabilitative services and material resources made available to such parent.

(d) For the purposes of this subdivision:

(i) A parent shall not be deemed unable to maintain contact with or plan for the future of the child by reason of such parent's use of drugs or alcohol, except while the parent is actually hospitalized or institutionalized therefor; and

(ii) The time during which a parent is actually hospitalized or institutionalized shall not interrupt, but shall not be part of, a period of failure to maintain contact with or plan for the future of a child.

(e) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (a) of this subdivision, evidence of diligent efforts by an agency to encourage and strengthen the parental relationship shall not be required when:

(i) The parent has failed for a period of six months to keep the agency apprised of his or her location, provided that the court may consider the particular delays or barriers an incarcerated parent or parents, or a parent or parents participating in a residential substance abuse treatment program, may experience in keeping the agency apprised of his or her location; or

(ii) An incarcerated parent has failed on more than one occasion while incarcerated to cooperate with an authorized agency in its efforts to assist such parent to plan for the future of the child, as such phrase is defined in paragraph (c) of this subdivision, or in such agency's efforts to plan and arrange visits with the child as described in subparagraph five of paragraph (f) of this subdivision.

(f) As used in this subdivision, "diligent efforts" shall mean reasonable attempts by an authorized agency to assist, develop and encourage a meaningful relationship between the parent and child, including but not limited to:

(1) consultation and cooperation with the parents in developing a plan for appropriate services to the child and his family;

(2) making suitable arrangements for the parents to visit the child except that with respect to an incarcerated parent, arrangements for the incarcerated parent to visit the child outside the correctional facility shall not be required unless reasonably feasible and in the best interest of the child;

(3) provision of services and other assistance to the parents, except incarcerated parents, so that problems preventing the discharge of the child from care may be resolved or ameliorated;

(4) informing the parents at appropriate intervals of the child's progress, development and health;

(5) making suitable arrangements with a correctional facility and other appropriate persons for an incarcerated parent to visit the child within the correctional facility, if such visiting is in the best interests of the child. When no visitation between child and incarcerated parent has been arranged for or permitted by the authorized agency because such visitation is determined not to be in the best interest of the child, then no permanent neglect proceeding under this subdivision shall be initiated on the basis of the lack of such visitation. Such arrangements shall include, but shall not be limited to, the transportation of the child to the correctional facility, and providing or suggesting social or rehabilitative services to resolve or correct the problems other than incarceration itself which impair the incarcerated parent's ability to maintain contact with the child. When the parent is incarcerated in a correctional facility located outside the state, the provisions of this subparagraph shall be construed to require that an authorized agency make such arrangements with the correctional facility only if reasonably feasible and permissible in accordance with the laws and regulations applicable to such facility; and

(6) providing information which the authorized agency shall obtain from the office of children and family services, outlining the legal rights and obligations of a parent who is incarcerated or in a residential substance abuse treatment program whose child is in custody of an authorized agency, and on social or rehabilitative services available in the community, including family visiting services, to aid in the development of a meaningful relationship between the parent and child. Wherever possible, such information shall include transitional and family support services located in the community to which an incarcerated parent or parent participating in a residential substance abuse treatment program shall return.

8. (a) For the purposes of this section a child is "severely abused" by his or her parent if (i) the child has been found to be an abused child as a result of reckless or intentional acts of the parent committed under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life, which result in serious physical injury to the child as defined in subdivision ten of section 10.00 of the penal law; or

(ii) the child has been found to be an abused child, as defined in paragraph (iii) of subdivision (e) of section ten hundred twelve of the family court act, as a result of such parent's acts; provided, however, the respondent must have committed or knowingly allowed to be committed a felony sex offense as defined in sections 130.25, 130.30, 130.35, 130.40, 130.45, 130.50, 130.65, 130.67, 130.70, 130.75, 130.80, 130.95 and 130.96 of the penal law and, for the purposes of this section the corroboration requirements contained in the penal law shall not apply to proceedings under this section; or

(iii) (A) the parent of such child has been convicted of murder in the first degree as defined in section 125.27, murder in the second degree as defined in section 125.25, manslaughter in the first degree as defined in section 125.20, or manslaughter in the second degree as defined in section 125.15, and the victim of any such crime was another child of the parent or another child for whose care such parent is or has been legally responsible as defined in subdivision (g) of section one thousand twelve of the family court act, or another parent of the child, unless the convicted parent was a victim of physical, sexual or psychological abuse by the decedent parent and such abuse was a factor in causing the homicide; or has been convicted of an attempt to commit any of the foregoing crimes, and the victim or intended victim was the child or another child of the parent or another child for whose care such parent is or has been legally responsible as defined in subdivision (g) of section one thousand twelve of the family court act, or another parent of the child, unless the convicted parent was a victim of physical, sexual or psychological abuse by the decedent parent and such abuse was a factor in causing the attempted homicide; (B) the parent of such child has been convicted of criminal solicitation as defined in article one hundred, conspiracy as defined in article one hundred five or criminal facilitation as defined in article one hundred fifteen of the penal law for conspiring, soliciting or facilitating any of the foregoing crimes, and the victim or intended victim was the child or another child of the parent or another child for whose care such parent is or has been legally responsible; (C) the parent of such child has been convicted of assault in the second degree as defined in section 120.05, assault in the first degree as defined in section 120.10 or aggravated assault upon a person less than eleven years old as defined in section 120.12 of the penal law, and the victim of any such crime was the child or another child of the parent or another child for whose care such parent is or has been legally responsible; or has been convicted of an attempt to commit any of the foregoing crimes, and the victim or intended victim was the child or another child of the parent or another child for whose care such parent is or has been legally responsible; or (D) the parent of such child has been convicted under the law in any other jurisdiction of an offense which includes all of the essential elements of any crime specified in clause (A), (B) or (C) of this subparagraph; and

(iv) the agency has made diligent efforts to encourage and strengthen the parental relationship, including efforts to rehabilitate the respondent, when such efforts will not be detrimental to the best interests of the child, and such efforts have been unsuccessful and are unlikely to be successful in the foreseeable future. Where a court has previously determined in accordance with this chapter or the family court act that reasonable efforts to make it possible for the child to return safely to his or her home are not required, the agency shall not be required to demonstrate diligent efforts as set forth in this section.

(b) For the purposes of this section a child is "repeatedly abused" by his or her parent if:

(i) the child has been found to be an abused child, (A) as defined in paragraph (i) of subdivision (e) of section ten hundred twelve of the family court act, as a result of such parent's acts; or (B) as defined in paragraph (iii) of subdivision (e) of section ten hundred twelve of the family court act, as a result of such parent's acts; provided, however, the respondent must have committed or knowingly allowed to be committed a felony sex offense as defined in sections 130.25, 130.30, 130.35, 130.40, 130.45, 130.50, 130.65, 130.67, 130.70, 130.75, 130.80, 130.95 and 130.96 of the penal law; and

(ii) (A) the child or another child for whose care such parent is or has been legally responsible has been previously found, within the five years immediately preceding the initiation of the proceeding in which such abuse is found, to be an abused child, as defined in paragraph (i) or (iii) of subdivision (e) of section ten hundred twelve of the family court act, as a result of such parent's acts; provided, however, in the case of a finding of abuse as defined in paragraph (iii) of subdivision (e) of section ten hundred twelve of the family court act the respondent must have committed or knowingly allowed to be committed a felony sex offense as defined in sections 130.25, 130.30, 130.35, 130.40, 130.45, 130.50, 130.65, 130.67, 130.70, 130.75 and 130.80 of the penal law, or (B) the parent has been convicted of a crime under section 130.25, 130.30, 130.35, 130.40, 130.45, 130.50, 130.65, 130.67, 130.70, 130.75 or 130.80 of the penal law against the child, a sibling of the child or another child for whose care such parent is or has been legally responsible, within the five year period immediately preceding the initiation of the proceeding in which abuse is found; and

(iii) the agency has made diligent efforts, to encourage and strengthen the parental relationship, including efforts to rehabilitate the respondent, when such efforts will not be detrimental to the best interests of the child, and such efforts have been unsuccessful and are unlikely to be successful in the foreseeable future. Where a court has previously determined in accordance with this chapter or the family court act that reasonable efforts to make it possible for the child to return safely to his or her home are not required, the agency shall not be required to demonstrate diligent efforts as set forth in this section.

(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the requirements of paragraph (g) of subdivision three of this section shall be satisfied if one of the findings of abuse pursuant to subparagraph (i) or (ii) of paragraph (b) of this subdivision is found to be based on clear and convincing evidence.

(d) A determination by the court in accordance with article ten of the family court act based upon clear and convincing evidence that the child was a severely abused child as defined in subparagraphs (i) and (ii) of paragraph (a) of this subdivision shall establish that the child was a severely abused child in accordance with this section. Such a determination by the court in accordance with article ten of the family court act based upon a fair preponderance of evidence shall be admissible in any proceeding commenced in accordance with this section.

(e) A determination by the court in accordance with article ten of the family court act based upon clear and convincing evidence that a child was abused as defined in paragraph (i) of subdivision (e) of section ten hundred twelve of the family court act, as a result of such parent's acts; or (B) as defined in paragraph (iii) of subdivision (e) of section ten hundred twelve of the family court act, as a result of such parent's acts; provided, however, the respondent must have committed or knowingly allowed to be committed a felony sex offense as defined in sections 130.25, 130.30, 130.35, 130.40, 130.45, 130.50, 130.65, 130.67, 130.70, 130.75 and 130.80 of the penal law shall establish that the child was an abused child for the purpose of a determination as required by subparagraph (i) or (ii) of paragraph (b) of this subdivision. Such a determination by the court in accordance with article ten of the family court act based upon a fair preponderance of evidence shall be admissible in any proceeding commenced in accordance with this section.

(f) Upon a finding pursuant to paragraph (a) or (b) of this subdivision that the child has been severely or repeatedly abused by his or her parent, the court shall enter an order of disposition either (i) committing the guardianship and custody of the child, pursuant to this section, or (ii) suspending judgment in accordance with section six hundred thirty-three of the family court act, upon a further finding, based on clear and convincing, competent, material and relevant evidence introduced in a dispositional hearing, that the best interests of the child require such commitment or suspension of judgment. Where the disposition ordered is the commitment of guardianship and custody pursuant to this section, an initial freed child permanency hearing shall be completed pursuant to section one thousand eighty-nine of the family court act.

9. Nothing in this section shall be construed to terminate, upon commitment of the guardianship and custody of a child to an authorized agency or foster parent, any rights and benefits, including but not limited to rights relating to inheritance, succession, social security, insurance and wrongful death action claims, possessed by or available to the child pursuant to any other provision of law. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a child committed to the custody and guardianship of an authorized agency pursuant to this section shall be deemed to continue in foster care until such time as an adoption or another planned permanent living arrangement is finalized. Where the disposition ordered is the commitment of guardianship and custody pursuant to this section, an initial freed child permanency hearing shall be held pursuant to section one thousand eighty-nine of the family court act.

10. Upon the court's order transferring custody and guardianship to the commissioner, the attorney for the petitioning authorized agency shall promptly serve upon the persons who have been approved by such agency as the child's adoptive parents, notice of entry of such order and advise such persons that an adoption proceeding may be commenced. In accordance with the regulations of the department, the authorized agency shall advise such persons of the procedures necessary for adoption of the child. The authorized agency shall cooperate with such persons in the provision of necessary documentation.

11. Upon the entry of an order committing the guardianship and custody of a child pursuant to this section, the court shall inquire whether any foster parent or parents with whom the child resides, or any relative of the child, or other person, seeks to adopt such child. If such person or persons do seek to adopt such child, such person or persons may submit, and the court shall accept, all such petitions for the adoption of the child, together with an adoption home study, if any, completed by an authorized agency or disinterested person as such term is defined in subdivision three of section one hundred sixteen of the domestic relations law. The court shall thereafter establish a schedule for completion of other inquiries and investigations necessary to complete review of the adoption of the child and shall immediately set a schedule for completion of the adoption.

12. If the court determines to commit the custody and guardianship of the child pursuant to this section, or if the court determines to suspend judgement pursuant to section six hundred thirty-three of the family court act, the court in its order shall determine if there is any parent to whom notice of an adoption would be required pursuant to section one hundred eleven-a of the domestic relations law. In its order the court shall indicate whether such person or persons were given notice of the proceeding and whether such person or persons appeared. Such determinations shall be conclusive in all subsequent proceedings relating to the custody, guardianship or adoption of the child.

13. A petition to modify a disposition of commitment of guardianship and custody in order to restore parental rights may be brought in accordance with part one-A of article six of the family court act where the conditions enumerated in section six hundred thirty-five of such part have been met.


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Last modified: September 11, 2016