Justice or Too Far?

The parents of an eight-year-old boy recently pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter of their son.  Their son died from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2008.  The state of Ohio brought involuntary manslaughter charges against the parents.  The two parents face up to eight years each in prison.

The charges stem off of the parents’ lack of medical care in regards to their son.  From reports, they believed that their son had swollen glands.  He did not complain of any tenderness or pain.  Their son exhibited no signs of failing health.  The parents claim that their son had a lump near his glands that would swell and reduce periodically.  Other than this lump, their son exhibited no symptoms.  According to the Mayo Clinic, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is linked with symptoms that include painless swelling of the lymph nodes, constant fatigue, fever and itching.  Not every case identifies itself through all or any of these symptoms.

As for the child in question, his lymph nodes periodically swelled and then went down, with no other symptoms.  The charges brought against his parents, go substantially past substantiating them for abuse or neglect of a child.  Rather, these charges hold them out as murdering their eight-year-old son.  It appears as if these parents struggled financially and were trying their best to provide for their child.  Is it necessary to charge grieving parents, ones who probably feel their failure everyday, with murder of their own child?  What exactly is the justice here?  If the state is seeking deterrence, is a murder charge truly needed? … <Read More>

Untreated Sex Offenders: Automatically Presumed Neglectful Parents?

The New York Court of Appeals recently decided a case involving a father of five children who was found to be a level three sex offender after being convicted of various crimes, including “rape in the second degree, sexual intercourse with a person less than 15 years of age, and patronizing a prostitute”. Although none of these crimes involved the father’s own children or any other relatives, the court was faced with the question of whether or not the father nevertheless neglected his own children based on his status as a sex offender. … <Read More>

How Supervised are Supervised Visits?

On September 27, 2011, 8 children in foster care who were allegedly abducted by their mother about a week before were found in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and returned to the custody of Children’s Services. Their 28 year old mother who allegedly abducted them while at a supervised visitation at a foster care agency in Queens, New York was arrested and is being held on $200,000 bail. She was very emotional when speaking to the media upon her arrest. She claims that she took her children because  they are being abused by their foster parents.  The children’s father was also arrested and actually collapsed while in custody. Full Story: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/09/27/shanel-nadal-8-children-taken-from-foster-care-found-in-pennsyvania/

The 8 children range in age from 11 months old to 11 years old.  If the Queens Family Court believed that ACS proved allegations of abuse by a preponderance of the evidence and ordered all 8 children to be remanded to foster care and only have supervised visits with their parents, then why aren’t the visits actually being supervised? This is not the case where a mother was able to sneak her infant out of a foster care agency, which shouldn’t happen either. Yet, in this case we are talking about 8 children- equivalent to a small troop, class, or daycare group. It is inconceivable that no one saw them leave. The purpose of having supervised visitation arrangements is to protect the safety and well-being of the children, right?  The court has deemed the parents unfit to be left alone with the children, but here not only was the mother left alone, but she had enough alone time to walk out with all 8 children. … <Read More>

Misuse of ACS?

As overworked as the Administration for Children’s Services is, no one wants to hear stories like this one. This daily news article outlines public school parents’ beliefs that school administrators are calling ACS on parents who complain. The Administration for Children’s Services is under constant scrutiny for not investigating cases which should have been investigated and unfortunately sometimes end by having a child found dead or severely abused. For an overworked system to have any chance at success, cases like the ones outlined in the article, paint a clear picture of why ACS can’t investigate every single case which comes through their agency.… <Read More>

Parental Rights Termination

On November 22, the Maryland Court of Appeals declared that the “child’s interests” test prevailed in terminating custody in a legal or biological parent, over the previously used “unfit parent” standard. The court held that parental unfitness or exceptional circumstances were not a prerequisite finding in terminating the custodial rights of a parent.

But, when it comes to custody of a legal/biological parent over a non-parent, is best interests enough?

Should a wealthier non-parent with interests in the child’s life and upbringing be able to terminate the parent’s rights to the child based on best interests without needing to show unfitness or a higher standard to overcome?

The result of this standard may endanger parental rights to care for and enjoy custody of their child- the commonly recognized right of a parent to raise his or her child without state interference.

But on the other hand, consistent with the opinion of the court of appeals, the child’s best interests are always the paramount consideration regarding disputes that arise in such situations. This is true with regard to visitation of non-parents, as well as child support standards and modifications.

 For more on this case click HERE

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