Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Adoption of Posy

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Bristol

February 4, 2019

ADOPTION OF POSY (and a companion case[1]).

          Heard: September 12, 2018.

         Petitions filed in the Bristol Division of the Probate and Family Court Department on September 18, 2014.

         The cases were heard by Katherine A. Field, J.

          Roberta Driscoll for the father.

          Jeremy Bayless for Department of Children and Families.

          Jaime L. Prince for the children.

          Present: Green, C.J., Milkey, & Singh, JJ.

          SINGH, J.

         From his home in Guatemala, the father sought to obtain custody of his two daughters who were placed in foster care after the death of their mother in the United States. The father could not take immediate custody of the children because he had been deported earlier.[2] After a one-day trial, at which the father was necessarily absent due to his immigration status, a Probate and Family Court judge issued decrees terminating the father's parental rights. In finding the father to be an unfit parent, the judge characterized him as having "abandoned" the children. She also found that he had "a serious issue with criminal activity" and "longstanding issues of domestic violence." As none of these critical findings have adequate support in the record, we vacate the decrees.

         Background.

         The mother and father were both Guatemalan nationals who met in New Bedford; they began their relationship sometime in 2004 but never married. Posy was born in August, 2006, and Beth was born in June, 2009. In April, 2009, two months before Beth's birth, the father was deported, preventing him from acknowledging paternity on Beth's birth certificate.[3]After he was deported, the father maintained telephone contact with the mother (when she had access to a telephone) and the children.

         During the father's absence, the Department of Children and Families (department) became involved with the family. The first contact was in October, 2010, after the mother left the children in the care of a neighbor while she went to the hospital. She suffered from health conditions resulting from alcohol abuse, and her hospital stay became extended. The neighbor could not keep the children for this length of time, which led to a report to the department that the children were being neglected by their mother. Four additional reports of the mother's alleged abuse or neglect of the children followed during the period March, 2011, through February, 2014. Each of the alleged incidents of abuse or neglect filed against the mother occurred during the father's absence. No allegations of abuse or neglect of the children were filed against the father.

         In July, 2014, the mother died from complications relating to her alcoholism. Shortly thereafter, a maternal uncle and his girl friend became temporary guardians of the children for a few months.[4] Unable to place the children with another family member or family friend (because of disqualifications based on the immigration status of potential guardians), the department sua sponte took custody of the children in September, 2014, and placed them with a foster family.[5] At the same time, a department social worker was assigned to the family.

         Sometime after receiving her assignment, the social worker contacted the father in Guatemala. Because the family was receiving services from the department and the father sought custody of the children, a service plan issued to the father starting on November 11, 2014.[6] The father indicated that, in the interim, a paternal great uncle was interested in taking care of the children; although the placement was "ruled out" by the department, the paternal great uncle, a paternal great aunt, and a paternal cousin (along with the paternal cousin's three children) began regularly-scheduled visits with the children. On December 9, 2014, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.