DC COURT OF APPEALS EXPANDING AND REAFFIRMING FATHER’S RIGHT

The DC Court of Appeals in IN RE D.S., K.M., B.S., R.S., T.S. & P.S.; J.M., issued on September 20, 2012, reiterated the legal principles governing placement of children in the custody of their biological parents in a split neglect case.  Here the evidence established that the mother physically neglected the children and removal from her home was warranted, however, the court did not sufficiently consider the biological father and placement of the children with him rather than the shelter care — basis for the Court of Appeals reversal of the case.  The father was willing and able, had sufficient housing
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DOES INTERSTATE COMPACT ON THE PLACEMENT OF CHILDREN (ICPC) APPLY TO A NON-CUSTODIAL OUT OF STATE BIOLOGICAL PARENT?

Until recently, and almost consistently, the Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) would in cases where a non-custodial non-petitioned biological parent intervenes in the neglect proceedings and seeks custody of the child – would require that parent to go through the rigorous and rather arduous task of the ICPC approval traditionally reserved for out of state placement with a foster family or an out of state pre-adoptive home. The Supreme Court of Connecticut in an opinion published on July 19, 2012 (IN RE EMONI W. ET AL), dissected the ICPC statutory language and clearly ruled that the biological non-custodial parents
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WHAT IS THE LEGAL DEFINITION OF “IN LOCO PARENTIS”?

The DC Court of Appeals early on in Fuller v. Fuller, 247 A. 2d (1968) defined the term as a person who willingly puts himself in the role of legal parenting of a child, that is day to day care of the child such as: providing subsistence, food, shelter, medical care, etc – without going through the formalities of a court decreed legal relationship such as child custody, guardianship or adoption.  In short, assuming parental status and discharging the parental duties without legally being required to do so. Traditionally and often the grandparents who take over the parenting of a
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DC ADOPTION PROCEEDINGS

In the District, Child and Family Services (“CFSA”) involved adoptions are both complicated in legal requirements as well as in procedural steps needed to reach finalization.  The legal process starts with filing of an adoption petition, which would generate show cause orders to be served on parents.  Upon service, the parents may either enter a written consent, or contest the proceedings. The adoption petitioner then in a contested proceedings has to prove by clear and convincing evidence that either the biological parents have abandoned or failed to provide financial support for the child for a period of six months preceding
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MOTION TO SEAL DC CRIMINAL ARREST OR OTHER PUBLIC RECORDS:

In the District, depending on the outcome of a criminal case, there are various formulas used to seal arrest and other generated criminal records.  This blog will address four main statutorily authorized procedures and the requirements thereto: 1)   Sealing the record when case dismissed before trial 2)   Sealing record based on innocence 3)   Sealing record post trial with a non-guilty verdict 4)   Post conviction filing to seal record 1) Sealing of the Arrest Records Motion to seal an arrest record may be file by any person arrested for an offense whose prosecution/case has been terminated without conviction and before trial.
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OTHER NEWS JUNE 2012

Beyond the Penn State Scandal: Child Abuse Reporting Laws (Washington Lawyer) For some observers, the Penn State scandal exposes the problems inherent in the web of complicated laws defining the scope of who must report suspected child abuse. Available here. Parents’ Depression Linked to Problems in Children (NY Times) Research into postnatal depression has underscored the importance of checking up on parents’ mental health in the first months of a baby’s life. But a parent’s depression, it turns out, can be linked to all kinds of problems, even in the lives of older children. Available here. Adapting to Aging Out: Profiles
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LEGAL NEWS MAY 2012

In re C.L.O., No. 11-FS-898 (Decided April 12, 2012) This new case from the D.C. Court of Appeals addresses an unwed, noncustodial father’s challenge to the adoption of his child.  Available at: http://tiny.cc/dv9bdw. Youths Arrested for D.C. Robberies Up for 4th Straight Year (Washington Examiner) Arrests of youths for robberies in the District were up 17 percent.  Available here. Families Race to Adopt Before Tax Credit Ends (Reuters) The credit is set to expire on December 31, 2012.  Available here. Breaking Down Barriers so Foster Kids can Find a Family (CNN.com) Making adoption more accessible for same-sex couples.  Available here. Parents
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DC Alimony; maintenance of spouse and minor children/enforcement; residence requirements:

As the titles give away, this blog addresses and expands on these intricate and generally hard battled-over elements of a divorce and separation action: DC Alimony:  Upon issuance of a divorce decree or order of legal separation, the court when “just and proper” may enter an order for payment of alimony as well.  The order may be indefinite or for a certain designated period dictated by the relevant facts and circumstances.  In short, the court will determine the amount and the duration of payment of alimony.  The order may be nunc pro tunc to the date of filing of the
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LEGAL NEWS APRIL 2012

Recent Court of Appeals: Kenda v. Pleskovic, No. 09-FM-1082, 10-FM-16 (Decided March 22, 2012) Available here: Analysis of the District of Columbia’s Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Adoption: Study: Families Trending Toward Open Adoptions (Washington Times) An estimated 95 percent of U.S. infant adoptions now have some level of openness between birth parents and adoptive parents, unlike earlier decades, when such contact was routinely denied. Available here. Adoption Tax Credit Advocacy Kit (National Council for Adoption) Available here. Child Abuse: Stopping Child Abuse (Washington Post) Educating adults about the law and about signs of abuse is key to holding perpetrators accountable and
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CHILD SUPPORT MEASURED BY CHILD CUSTODY

DC Child support obligations are correlated and connected with the award of child custody.  They are inversely proportional.  That is, increase in child physical custody reduces the child support obligations.  Thus it is beneficial to litigate the child support and child custody matters simultaneously to both potentially reduce the child support obligations and also to increase the physical time spent with your child. In the District, the award of child custody may take one of the following forms but it is always based on the best interest of the child criteria: (i) sole legal custody; (ii) sole physical custody; (iii)
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