Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.
IN RE: KAIDEN L. (Anonymous). Westchester County Department of Social Services, Respondent; v. Kdaya R. (Anonymous), Appellant.
Decided: January 16, 2019
MARK C. DILLON, J.P., CHERYL E. CHAMBERS, VALERIE BRATHWAITE NELSON, LINDA CHRISTOPHER, JJ.
David M. Rosoff, White Plains, NY, for appellant. John M. Nonna, County Attorney, White Plains, N.Y. (Linda Trentacoste and David H. Chen of counsel), for respondent. Lisa F. Colin, White Plains, NY, attorney for the child.
DECISION & ORDER
ORDERED that the amended order is affirmed, without costs or disbursements.
In January 2015, the mother consented to a finding that she permanently neglected the subject child, and a suspended judgment was entered against her on April 2, 2015. Several months later, the petitioner moved to terminate the mother's parental rights, alleging that she had violated the suspended judgment. Following a combined fact-finding and dispositional hearing, the Family Court found that the mother had failed to comply with at least one of the terms and conditions of the suspended judgment, revoked the suspended judgment, terminated the mother's parental rights, and freed the child for adoption. The mother appeals.
By enacting Family Court Act §§ 631(b) and 633, the legislature vested the Family Court with discretion to give a “second chance” (Matter of Michael B., 80 N.Y.2d 299, 311, 590 N.Y.S.2d 60, 604 N.E.2d 122) to a parent of a “permanently neglected child” (Family Ct Act § 611; Social Services Law § 384–b ), before terminating the parent's parental rights (see Matter of Michael B., 80 N.Y.2d at 311, 590 N.Y.S.2d 60, 604 N.E.2d 122; Matter of Aliyah S.P. [Sabrina S.P.], 165 A.D.3d 1149, 85 N.Y.S.3d 595). A suspended judgment may be entered only if it is in the best interests of the child (see Family Ct Act § 631; Matter of Eric Z. [Guang Z.], 100 A.D.3d 646, 648, 953 N.Y.S.2d 644). It is not, however, intended to be indefinite, but only to afford the parent “a brief grace period designed to prepare the parent to be reunited with the child” (Matter of Michael B., 80 N.Y.2d at 311, 590 N.Y.S.2d 60, 604 N.E.2d 122). Upon entering an order of disposition suspending judgment, the court must set forth the duration, terms, and conditions of the suspended judgment (see Family Ct Act § 633[c] ). Even after a suspended judgment is entered, the court may revoke it if, after a hearing, it finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the parent failed to comply with one or more of its conditions (see Matter of Chanteau M.R.W. [Pamela R.B.], 101 A.D.3d 1129, 956 N.Y.S.2d 505; Matter of Carmen C. [Margarita N.], 95 A.D.3d 1006, 1008, 944 N.Y.S.2d 214; Matter of Ricky Joseph V., 24 A.D.3d 683, 684, 808 N.Y.S.2d 320). Moreover, a parent must demonstrate that progress has been made to overcome the specific problems that led to the removal of the child; mere attempts are not sufficient (see Matter of Deysanni H. [Deysanna H.], 156 A.D.3d 699, 700, 64 N.Y.S.3d 898; Matter of Darren V., 61 A.D.3d 986, 987, 878 N.Y.S.2d 171).
We agree with the Family Court's determination that the mother failed to comply with at least one of the conditions during the term of the suspended judgment (see Matter of Mashlai D.M. [Jalisa R.D.], 110 A.D.3d 813, 814, 971 N.Y.S.2d 900; Matter of Chanteau M.R.W. [Pamela R.B.], 101 A.D.3d at 1129, 956 N.Y.S.2d 505; Matter of Carmen C. [Margarita N.], 95 A.D.3d at 1008, 944 N.Y.S.2d 214; Matter of Darren V., 61 A.D.3d at 987, 878 N.Y.S.2d 171). We also agree with the court's determination that the best interests of the child would be served by terminating the mother's parental rights and freeing the child for adoption (see Matter of Charle C.E. [Chiedu E.], 129 A.D.3d 721, 722, 10 N.Y.S.3d 322).
The mother's remaining contentions are without merit.
DILLON, J.P., CHAMBERS, BRATHWAITE NELSON and CHRISTOPHER, JJ., concur.
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