In re Luis N.

Decision Date15 November 2016
Docket NumberH12CP1114190A,H12CP1114191A
CourtConnecticut Superior Court
PartiesIn re Luis N. [1] In re Marializ N.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS

Nicola E. Rubinow, J.

This memorandum of decision addresses issues raised by the petition filed by the Commissioner, Department of Children and Families (DCF or the department) for Luis N. and Marializ N. seeking to terminate parental rights (TPR) of the children's father Santos N. and their mother Belinda F.

The court has jurisdiction over the proceedings; notice of all hearings were provided in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Practice Book; and no evidence or pleadings establish that either Luis or Marializ is an Indian Child as contemplated by Practice Book § 32a-3(c). All parties were represented by skilled and experienced counsel; during the latter stages of the litigation, the children's best interests were served by their court-appointed guardian ad litem (GAL).[2]

DCF alone bears the burden of proving each essential allegation of the TPR petition by clear and convincing evidence pursuant to the applicable provisions of § 17a-112(j).[3] Although each respondent has vigorously defended himself or herself in the face of the TPR petitions, the court has not imposed any undue burden of proof upon either respondent.[4]

After considering the verified petitions, the parties' motions the facts as found by clear and convincing evidence, and applying the relevant standards and law to those facts, the court resolves all issues in favor of the department.[5] Accordingly, for the reasons set forth below, the court orders termination of parental rights.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY AND INITIAL FACTUAL FINDINGS

Portions of the parties' attenuated child protection litigation history is relevant to the TPR issues.[6] Accordingly, after hearing, the court ruled that judicial notice would be taken of the appropriate content within the juvenile court files maintained for Luis's and Marializ's half-siblings.[7]

The court has used appropriate standards for assessing the weight of the evidence as a whole.[8] Witnesses, each of whom was subject to cross examination, included: DCF workers Wendy B., Ama T., Zaira R.; Valarie Williams, the mother's counselor; Liarian Santana, a case manager with Catholic Charities; Perspectives Counseling Center's Director Amy Korte, LMFT and Dilice Robertson, APRN; Meghan Molcyk, RN, of Associated Woman's Health; Family Intervention Center's LCSW Sandy Vargas; Klingberg Family Center's LMFT Debra Crivello, Program Coordinator LCSW Mary Dineen-Elovich, and parent counselor Aida Claudio-Cruz Martina Jackson, The Connections staff member working with Supportive Housing; Maritza M., the children's foster mother; Edwina Miller, CRT Intake Coordinator; Justine Rakich-Kelly of Rebuilding Families; Atty. Samuel Christodlous, the GAL; Radiance Innovative Services' (Radiance) mentor, Gregory Davis; [9] and Bruce Freedman Ph.D., the court-appointed psychological evaluator.[10] The court also received testimony from Belinda F., the mother; and Santos N., the father.[11] Exhibits included: court records photographs; laboratory test results and a specimen receptacle; and the court-appointed psychological evaluator's written reports and curriculum vita; documents and correspondence from providers; and documents and correspondence created by DCF, including the department's social study in support of termination of parental rights and addendum.[12]

Upon consideration of the verified pleadings and the evidence in its entirety, the court finds the facts set forth in this memorandum of decision to have been proved by clear and convincing evidence.

Luis was born to Belinda F. and Santos N. on July 12, 2008. (Ex. 24.) Marializ was born to Belinda F. and Santos N. on June 20, 2009. (Ex. 23.) DCF became involved with the children in February of 2011. (Tes. Wendy B.)

Just prior to October 11, 2011, when Luis and Marializ were in Belinda F.'s physical custody, the department removed them pursuant to General Statues § 17a-101g. (Exs. 2, Fa-O-1, Fa-O-2, Fa-O-3.) On October 11, 2011, DCF obtained an ex parte Order of Temporary Custody (OTC) for the children (Wollenberg, J.). The court provided specific steps for Belinda F. and Santos N. to aid in their post-removal reunification with Luis and Marializ. (Exs. 19, 20; Tes. Wendy B.)

On October 21, 2011, the court (Wollenberg, J.) sustained the OTC for Luis and Marializ.

On May 31, 2012, the court (Frazzini, J.) adjudicated Luis and Marializ neglected as to Belinda F. based on exposure to conditions injurious to their well-being.

On August 9, 2012, the court (Frazzini, J.) adjudicated Luis and Marializ neglected as to Santos N. based on exposure to conditions injurious to their well-being, ordered their commitment to DCF, and issued specific steps for both Santos N. and Belinda F. to facilitate each parent's reunification with the children, consistent with § 46b-129. (Exs. 21, 22.)

On December 12, 2012, DCF filed its TPR petitions for Luis and for Marializ. The TPR petition was amended after hearing on September 6, 2013.[13] As amended, the petition alleges has made reasonable efforts to locate each parent and to reunify each parent with Luis and Marializ, that each parent is unable or unwilling to benefit from reasonable reunification efforts, that neither parent has achieved personal rehabilitation, and that TPR is in the best interests of the children.

The evidentiary portion of the trial commenced on November 24, 2014 and continued on divers days thereafter.

On January 15, 2016, the court granted the oral motion made by the children's attorney and joined by Belinda F., and appointed a GAL for Luis Marializ to enhance the court's consideration of the children's best interests in the event DCF met its burden of proof on the adjudicatory issues.

On January 29, 2016, the court provided both respondents with the canvass contemplated by In re Yasiel R., 317 Conn. 773, 120 A.3d 1188 (2015).[14]

On August 3, 2016, the GAL delivered his report, subject to cross examination. On that date, the parties presented closing argument.

I. A. THE FATHER

Born in 1981, Santos N. is a high school graduate. (Exs. 23, 24; Tes. Davis.) He is the father of a number of children, some of whom are only a few months apart in age. (Exs. 23, 24.) He has custody only of his daughter, Cindaliz, born to him and Giselle G. on August 31, 2004. (Exs. 34, Fa-O-3.) The child Santos, Jr. was born to Santos N. and Tamara F. on January 3, 2008.[15] Approximately seven months later, Luis was born to Belinda F. and Santos N. on July 12, 2008. (Ex. 24.) The child Yamaria N. was born to Santos N. and Tamara N. on April 18, 2009, approximately two months before the birth of Marializ to Santos N. and Belinda F.[16] The child Nayeliz C. was born to Santos N. and Mariely C. on June 13, 2009.[17] Just a few days later, on June 20, 2009, Marializ was born to Santos N. and Belinda F. on June 20, 2009.[18] (Ex. 23.) Notably, the pattern of Santos N.'s brief, relatively simultaneous romantic liaisons with a number of female partners has resulted in his paternity of his oldest child, Cindaliz; of two sons born in January and July 2008 (Santos, Jr. and Luis N.); and of three daughters born in the spring of 2009 (Yamaria N., Nayeliz C. and Marializ N.).[19] (See Tes. Wendy B.)

DCF met with Santos N. on multiple occasions commencing in February 2011, when Luis and Marializ were in Belinda F.'s custody and when her feeling of being overwhelmed had become known to the department, as discussed in Part II.B. As of February 2011, Santos N. had custody of Cindaliz, who lived with him, with a female companion, his sister and with his parents; the other adults provided care for Cindaliz before and after her elementary school day ended, while the respondent father worked at a car wash.[20] In the spring of 2011, working with DCF, Santos N. agreed to take care of Luis and Marializ on some weekends, as a way of lessening Belinda F.'s feeling of being overwhelmed. DCF made in-home family preservation services available to Santos N. from February through October 2011; however, the respondent father never availed himself of the in-home family preservation services claiming that his work schedule intervened. Santos N. did not provide the agreed-upon weekend care for his younger children; while Santos N. had reported that he could make accommodations so that Luis and Marializ could move into the home of their paternal grandparents, this never occurred.[21] (Tes. Wendy B.)

As discussed above, DCF obtained its ex parte OTC for Luis and Marializ on October 11, 2011, removing them from Belinda F.'s care and from parental custody. Specific steps were issued by the court for Santos N. pursuant to General Statutes § 46b-129. To decide whether Santos N. would be an appropriate placement resource for the children, DCF used its assessment tools, its understanding of his role as a parent, and conducted a criminal history; because the department found no convictions for assault or domestic violence, notwithstanding the rather remarkable history of convictions related to firearms, sale of drugs, and violation of court orders, DCF apparently decided to keep the father under consideration as a temporary custodian for Luis and Marializ. (Tes. Wendy B.)

On October 30, 2011, DCF commenced providing two hour visits once per week for " Santos N. with Luis and Marializ visits were supervised by Radiance's credentialed personnel and by DCF.[22] On October 30, 2011, in addition to supervised visits with Luis and Marializ, DCF also commenced providing Santos N. with...

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