Archives for dc divorce lawyer

THIRD PARTY CUSTODY: LEGAL STANDARD – RECENT DC COURT OF APPEALS CASE

There is rebuttable presumption that custody with a parent is in the best interests of the child unless proven otherwise by clear and convincing evidence.  In another word, there is a parental presumption of fitness that can only be overcome by clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.  This is also a constitutionally rooted and protected principle. In the District, a third party may file for custody of a minor child – however, the legal standard used – similar to adoption and termination of parental rights – is as stated: by clear and convincing evidence. Thus with the third party
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PETITIONER’S FTINESS FINDING IN THE ADOPTION PROCEEDINGS: RELEVANT CASES AND THE STATUTORY PROVISIONS

This blog addresses legal principles applicable to the court’s fitness finding in the adoption cases when the health or fitness of the adoptive petitioner is at issue. There are statutory provisions that address both fitness as well as health of the petitioners, among other parties, and relevant case law, which extend possible waiver of the doctor-patient privilege when in the best interest of the child or justice to the petitioners as well as the natural parents. There is the Termination of parental rights: D.C. Code §16-2353 (b)(2), the court is charged with in considering what is in the best interest
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CHILD’S TESTIMONY, THE LEGAL PRINCIPLE:

Often times in the neglect and abuse, termination of parental rights, and adoption litigation — the child’s testimony can tip the scale one way or another.  Under the adoption statute, the child’s position, if the child is fourteen or older, shall be considered by the court.  Under the TPR statute, §16-2353(b)(2)&(4); mental and emotional needs of the child as well as the child’s opinion as to his/her best interest are both codified.  In child custody cases, the child’s opinion as to his/her physical custodian is one of the statutory elements, §16-914(3)(B).  Regardless, in family cases, the litigants face resistance from
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ENTIRE MOSAIC OF THE CHILD’S LIFE –- A LEGAL PRINCIPLE OR AN EXCUSE TO LET ALL NON-ADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE IN?

The pinnacle case that first defined and expounded on the “entire mosaic” of the child life was:  In re. S.K., 564 A.2d 1382 (DC 1989). The case was about excessive physical discipline of a child who had set her bed on fire.  Parents sufficiently outraged had both physically disciplined her, belting the child.   The mitigating factors were that the child had a pre-existing, documented severe psychological issues, with even suicidal ideations.  The parents were aware of that.  The court however found neglect based on a very narrow and isolated set of facts.  The judge focused only on the day and
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HEARSAY EXCEPTION FOR THE PURPOSE OF MEDICAL TREATMENT:

The recent Court of Appeals decision in IN RE. M.F. (No. 08-FS-733, Sept. 27, 2012), highlights how the litigation errors made at the trial level can tip the balance on the appeal. At issue, in part, was statements admitted by MF Fentress into record as admissible under the hearsay exception: statement made during medical diagnosis.  The evidence of abuse and neglect at trial was primarily elicited through the testimonies of a therapist, a treating medical professional and the social worker.  The bulk of testimony and evidence was the child’s account of events to these individual who all testified.  The litigants
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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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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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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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