In the Matter of Breana R. S. (Anonymous), nonparty-appellant. Catholic Guardian Services, petitioner-respondent; Triana B.-S. (anonymous), respondent-appellant, et al., respondent. Docket No. B-1163-11
Seymour W. James, Jr., New York, NY (Tamara A. Steckler and
Judith Stern of counsel), for nonparty-appellant.
P. Forbes, Jamaica, NY, for respondent-appellant.
Magovern & Sclafani, Mineola, NY (Mary Jane Sclafani and
Joanna M. Roberson of counsel), for petitioner-respondent.
C. DILLON, J.P., SHERI S. ROMAN, JEFFREY A. COHEN, ROBERT J.
DECISION & ORDER
by the mother and separate appeal by the child from an order
of the Family Court, Kings County (Barbara Salinitro, J.),
dated January 7, 2016. The order, after a hearing, in effect,
revoked an order of suspended judgment of that court dated
July 29, 2013, with respect to the mother, and terminated the
mother's parental rights to the subject child.
that the order dated January 7, 2016, is affirmed, without
costs or disbursements.
petitioner commenced this proceeding to terminate the
mother's parental rights on the ground that she had
permanently neglected the subject child. The mother admitted
that she permanently neglected the child by failing to visit
her for a continuous six-month period, and the Family Court
entered an order of suspended judgment dated July 29, 2013.
The petitioner subsequently filed a petition alleging that
the mother had violated the terms of the order of suspended
judgment. Following a hearing, the court found that the
mother had failed to comply with the terms of the order of
suspended judgment and, in effect, revoked the order of
suspended judgment as to the mother and terminated the
mother's parental rights. Both the mother and the child
Family Court may revoke a suspended judgment after a
violation hearing if it finds, upon a preponderance of the
evidence, that the parent failed to comply with one or more
of the conditions of the suspended judgment" (Matter
of Hypnotic L.D. [Alexa R.N.], 145 A.D.3d 720, 721;
see Matter of Derrick D.A. [Shavonna L.L.D.], 134
A.D.3d 928, 928; Matter of Phoenix D.A. [Jessie A.],
123 A.D.3d 823, 824). "When determining compliance with
a suspended judgment, it is the parent's obligation to
demonstrate that progress has been made to overcome the
specific problems which led to the removal of the child. A
parent's attempt to comply with the literal provisions of
the suspended judgment is not enough" (Matter of
Selena L. [Susan B.L.], 140 A.D.3d 769, 770). "The
credibility findings of the Family Court should be accorded
great deference, as it had direct access to the parties and
was in the best position to evaluate their testimony,
character, and sincerity" (Matter of Derrick D.A.
[Shavonna L.L.D.], 134 A.D.3d at 928). Here, the court
properly found, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the
mother failed to comply with the terms of the order of
suspended judgment requiring her to attend and complete a
substance abuse treatment program and attend scheduled visits
with the child (see Matter of Hypnotic L.D. [Alexa
R.N.], 145 A.D.3d 720; Matter of Kimble G., II
[Kimble G.], 108 A.D.3d 534; Matter of Carmen C.
[Margarita N.], 95 A.D.3d 1006; see also Matter of
Gianna W. [Jessica S.], 96 A.D.3d 545).
under the circumstances of this case, the Family Court
providently exercised its discretion in determining that a
separate dispositional hearing was not required before, in
effect, revoking the order of suspended judgment as to the
mother and terminating the mother's parental rights. The
Family Court may enforce a suspended judgment without the
need for a separate dispositional hearing where "the
court has presided over prior proceedings from which it
became acquainted with the parties, and the record shows that
the court was aware of and considered the child's best
interests" (Matter of Kai G. [Janice K.], 126
A.D.3d 902, 903; see Matter of Hypnotic L.D. [Alexa
R.N.], 145 A.D.3d 720; Matter of Darren V., 61
A.D.3d 986). Here, the court conducted a full fact-finding
hearing on the violation petition, as well as a permanency
hearing, and the record shows that it was aware of and
considered the child's best interests (see Matter of
Jeremiah J.W. [Tionna W.], 134 A.D.3d 848; Matter of
Carmen C. [Margarita N.], 95 A.D.3d 1006).
in totality, the record demonstrates that the mother was
afforded the effective assistance of counsel (see
Family Ct Act § 262[a][i]; People v Baldi, 54