In re Jamal B.

Decision Date31 May 2012
Citation95 A.D.3d 1614,2012 N.Y. Slip Op. 04253,945 N.Y.S.2d 472
CourtNew York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
PartiesIn the Matter of JAMAL B. and Others, Alleged to be Abandoned Children. Broome County Department of Social Services, Respondent; Johnny B., Appellant.

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Kelly M. Corbett, Fayetteville, for appellant.

Thomas Coulson, Broome County Department of Social Services, Binghamton, for respondent.

F. Daniel Casella, Binghamton, attorney for the children.

Before: MERCURE, J.P., ROSE, STEIN, GARRY and EGAN JR., JJ.

GARRY, J.

Appeal from an order of the Family Court of Broome County (Pines, J.), entered October 3, 2011, which granted petitioner's application, in a proceeding pursuant to Social Services Law § 384–b, to adjudicate the subject children to be abandoned, and terminated respondent's parental rights.

Respondent is the father of four children (born in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008). The three older children were removed from their parents' custody and placed in a foster home in August 2007, and the youngest child was removed in March 2009. Petitioner alleged in this proceeding that respondent abandoned the children for the six-month period from September 30, 2010 through March 30, 2011. Following a fact-finding hearing, Family Court adjudicated the children to be abandoned and terminatedrespondent's parental rights. Respondent appeals, and we affirm.

To establish that respondent abandoned his children, petitioner was required to show by clear and convincing evidence that during the six months immediately before filing the petition, he “evince[d] an intent to forego his ... parental rights and obligations as manifested by his ... 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” (Social Services Law § 384–b[5] [a]; see Matter of Ryan Q. [Eric Q.], 90 A.D.3d 1263, 1263–1264, 935 N.Y.S.2d 179 [2011],lv. denied18 N.Y.3d 809, 2012 WL 996906 [2012];Matter of Lily LL. [Eric MM.], 88 A.D.3d 1121, 1122, 931 N.Y.S.2d 194 [2011] ). Respondent's ability to maintain contact with his children is presumed. If petitioner shows that he failed to do so, the burden shifts, and respondent must establish that he was unable to maintain contact or that petitioner prevented or discouraged him from doing so ( seeSocial Services Law § 384–b[5][a]; Matter of Lamar LL. [Loreal MM.], 86 A.D.3d 680, 680–681, 927 N.Y.S.2d 185 [2011],lv. denied17 N.Y.3d 712, 2011 WL 4835732 [2011];Matter of Jacob WW., 56 A.D.3d 995, 997, 868 N.Y.S.2d 348 [2008] ).

By the testimony of caseworkers and the children's foster father, petitioner established that respondent visited the children only twice during the relevant period, although he was scheduled to do so every two weeks. He spoke with two of the children by telephone once, in a call initiated by the foster father. On one occasion, respondent left a voice mail message asking a caseworker to contact him to discuss the children; the caseworker returned the call and left a message, but respondent did not call back. Respondent also made at least two calls to the caseworkers to discuss transportation problems, and he spoke with them when he attended court proceedings. He sent no letters or cards to the children and did not attend meetings to discuss their status. Respondent's sporadic and infrequent, insubstantial contacts were insufficient to defeat the claim of abandonment ( see Matter of Ryan Q. [Eric Q.], 90 A.D.3d at 1264, 935 N.Y.S.2d 179;Matter of Michaela PP. [Derwood PP.], 72 A.D.3d 1430, 1430–1431, 900 N.Y.S.2d 166 [2010],lv. denied15 N.Y.3d 705, 2010 WL 3430936 [2010];Matter of Chantelle TT., 281 A.D.2d 660, 661, 721 N.Y.S.2d 417 [2001] ).

Respondent did not demonstrate that he was unable to maintain contact with the children nor discouraged from doing so. Although he claimed that transportation difficulties prevented him from visiting the children after he moved from the city to a rural location, he conceded that he was still able to arrange transportation for other purposes. Thus, he did not demonstrate that this problem so “permeated his life as to make contact with his child[ren] or petitioner during the relevant time period infeasible” (Matter of Leala T., 55 A.D.3d 1007, 1008, 871 N.Y.S.2d 731 [2008] [internal quotation marks and citation omitted]; accord Matter of Stephen UU. [Stephen VV.], 81 A.D.3d 1127, 1129, 916 N.Y.S.2d 673 [2011],lv. denied17 N.Y.3d 702, 929 N.Y.S.2d 93, 952 N.E.2d 1088 [2011] ). Respondent further claimed that he intentionally forfeited visits with the children to...

To continue reading

Request your trial
20 cases
  • In re Mario S.
    • United States
    • New York Family Court
    • November 21, 2012
    ...175, 472 N.E.2d 1003 [1984];Matter of Gabrielle HH., 1 N.Y.3d 549, 550, 772 N.Y.S.2d 643, 804 N.E.2d 964 [2003];Matter of Jamal B., 95 A.D.3d 1614, 1616, 945 N.Y.S.2d 472, 976 N.E.2d 251 [2012],lv. denied19 N.Y.3d 812, 2012 WL 4017424 [2012] ). The determination that Mario has been abandone......
  • Schenectady Cnty. Dep't of Soc. Servs. v. Michael L. (In re Derick L.)
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • November 21, 2018
    ...(see Matter of Jazmyne OO. [Maurice OO.], 111 A.D.3d 1085, 1087–1088, 975 N.Y.S.2d 786 [2013] ; Matter of Jamal B. [Johnny B.], 95 A.D.3d 1614, 1616, 945 N.Y.S.2d 472 [2012], lv denied 19 N.Y.3d 812, 2012 WL 4017424 [2012] ). As to the determination of neglect with respect to the two younge......
  • In re Colby II.
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • June 23, 2016
    ...[and] insubstantial contacts were insufficient to defeat [petitioner's showing] of abandonment” (Matter of Jamal B. [Johnny B.], 95 A.D.3d 1614, 1615–1616, 945 N.Y.S.2d 472 [2012] [citations omitted], lv. denied 19 N.Y.3d 812, 2012 WL 4017424 [2012] ; see Matter of Dustin JJ. [Clyde KK.], 1......
  • Broome Cnty. Dep't of Soc. Servs. v. Rachel L. (In re Micah L.)
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • March 18, 2021
    ...of abandonment (see Matter of Damien D. [Ronald D.], 176 A.D.3d 1411, 1412, 111 N.Y.S.3d 442 [2019] ; Matter of Jamal B. [Johnny B.], 95 A.D.3d 1614, 1615–1616, 945 N.Y.S.2d 472 [2012], lv denied 19 N.Y.3d 812, 2012 WL 4017424 [2012] ). The mother failed to establish that she was unable to ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT