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In re Brandon G. (Anonymous)

Supreme Court of New York, Second Department

November 1, 2017

In the Matter of Brandon G. (Anonymous), Jr. Coalition for Hispanic Family Services, petitioner-respondent; Tiynia M. (Anonymous), respondent-appellant, et al., respondent. Docket No. B-164-15

          Submitted - October 10, 2017

         D53741 G/htr

          Cheryl Charles-Duval, Brooklyn, NY, for respondent-appellant.

          Law Offices of James M. Abramson, PLLC, New York, NY, for petitioner-respondent.

          Seymour W. James, Jr., New York, NY (Tamara A. Steckler and Diane Pazar of counsel), attorney for the child.

          MARK C. DILLON, J.P. JEFFREY A. COHEN FRANCESCA E. CONNOLLY LINDA CHRISTOPHER, JJ.

          DECISION & ORDER

         Appeal by the mother from an order of the Family Court, Kings County (Lillian Wan, J.), dated September 30, 2016. The order denied the mother's motion to vacate so much of an order of fact-finding and disposition of the same court dated August 19, 2016, as, upon her failure to appear at a fact-finding and dispositional hearing, and after an inquest, terminated her parental rights on the ground of abandonment, and transferred custody and guardianship of the subject child to the Coalition for Hispanic Family Services for the purpose of adoption.

         ORDERED that the order dated September 30, 2016, is affirmed, without costs or disbursements.

         In this proceeding, inter alia, pursuant to Social Services Law § 384-b to terminate the mother's parental rights on the ground of abandonment, the mother failed to appear at the fact-finding and dispositional hearing held on February 16, 2016, and was found to be in default.

         The Family Court conducted a fact-finding and dispositional inquest, inter alia, determined that the subject child was an abandoned child, terminated the mother's parental rights, and transferred custody and guardianship of the subject child to the Coalition for Hispanic Family Services for the purpose of adoption. Thereafter, the mother moved to vacate her default. The Family Court denied the mother's motion, and the mother appeals.

         The determination of whether to relieve a party of a default is within the sound discretion of the Family Court (see Matter of Clarence D.H. [Fidelina A.], 150 A.D.3d 1113, 1114; Matter of Isabella R.W. [Jessica W.], 142 A.D.3d 503, 504; Matter of Kimberly S.K. [Kimberly K.], 138 A.D.3d 853, 854; Matter of Stephen Daniel A. [Sandra M.-A.], 122 A.D.3d 837, 839; Matter of MiaP.R.D. [DavidD.], 113 A.D.3d 679, 680). A parent seeking to vacate an order entered upon his or her default in a termination of parental rights proceeding must establish that there was a reasonable excuse for the default and a potentially meritorious defense to the relief sought in the petition (see CPLR 5015[a][1]; Matter of Clarence D.H. [Fidelina A.], 150 A.D.3d at 1114; Matter of Isabella R.W. [Jessica W.], 142 A.D.3d at 504; Matter of Stephen Daniel A. [Sandra M.-A.], 122 A.D.3d at 839; Matter of Mia P.R.D. [David D.], 113 A.D.3d at 680; Matter of Daniel Marcus Y. [Marilyn Y.], 77 A.D.3d 843, 843).

         Contrary to the mother's contention, she failed to provide a reasonable excuse for her default (see Matter of Paul G.D.H. [Yvonne H.], 147 A.D.3d 699, 699; Matter of Arianna-Samantha Lady Melissa S. [Carissa S.], 134 A.D.3d 582, 583; Matter of Deyquan M.B. [Lashon H.], 124 A.D.3d 644, 645; Matter of Joshua E.R. [Yolaine R.], 123 A.D.3d 723, 725; Matter of Sean Michael N. [Lydia T.-Shawn N.], 106 A.D.3d 561, 561; Matter of Kenneth S. v Bethzaida P., 95 A.D.3d 1022, 1023; Matter of Dominique Beyonce R. [MariaIsabelR.], 82 A.D.3d 984, 985). Because the mother does not have a reasonable excuse for her default, we need not determine whether she has a potentially meritorious defense (see Matter of Serwatka v Serwatka, 147 A.D.3d 1066, 1066; Matter of Kimberly S.K. [Kimberly K.], 138 A.D.3d at 854; Matter of Stephen Daniel A. [Sandra M.-A.], 122 A.D.3d at 839; Matter of Proctor-Shields v Shields, 74 A.D.3d 1347, 1348).

         Accordingly, the Family Court providently exercised its discretion in denying the mother's motion to vacate the order of ...


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