They wanted to live with their mother, Linda and Sam finally raised their hesitant voices

Twelve-year-old Linda* and her seven-year-old brother, Sam*, were living with their maternal grandmother. Their mom had been a teen mom and she had previously lived in the grandmother’s household with them, but their mother left.  She came back and wished to take her children with her.  The grandmother forbade it and the mother petitioned for custody.   Linda and Sam did not want to be in the middle and were reluctant, at first, to share information with their CLC attorney or social worker and would not express a preference as to where they wished to live.  As the CLC team worked with Linda and Sam, the children began to reveal that the grandmother hollered at them and hit them, sometimes with clothes hangers. However, the children asked that the information remain confidential, as they were apprehensive about how the grandmother would react.

Forensic evaluations of the parties and the children were completed, and substantiated CLC team’s concerns. After meeting with Linda and Sam again, the children gave their attorney permission to reveal to the court how the grandmother punished them and disparaged the mother in their presence and that they wanted to live with their mother, but loved their grandmother. 

CLC requested an immediate change of custody, based on the theory that the court had sufficient information to enter a temporary order without a full-blown hearing. After reviewing the considerable information available, the court changed custody of the children to their mother prior to trial. At trial, the investigation conducted by the CLC social worker and attorney was vital in cross-examining witnesses and demonstrating why remaining with the grandmother would be contrary to the wishes of the children and their best interests.  A final order of custody was granted to the mother.

Amy Searched for safety in New York 

Amy*, 14 and Matt*, 4 were placed in foster care in Georgia after Amy revealed to her guidance counselor that her mother’s husband had been raping her for approximately two years. The husband was arrested, and the children were returned to the mother under an order prohibiting the mother from allowing any adults to reside in the home without the approval of the Georgia child welfare agency ("Georgia DFCS”).

The mother soon had a new live in boyfriend who sold and used drugs.  Amy and Matt were around the drugs and the mother and her boyfriend’s drinking. They also witnessed some violent fights.  When Georgia DFCS became aware of the boyfriend’s presence in the home, the children were removed and placed in foster care with a paternal aunt of Amy's half-sibling, Matt.  Matt’s aunt beat the children regularly with belts and other objects, leaving welts and bruises.

The children’s mother moved to Virginia.  The paternal aunt telephoned the mother, stating that she was tired of caring for the children and requested that the mother take them back, although the mother was not permitted any unsupervised contact with the children by court order.  The mother brought the children to reside with her, her boyfriend and theIr new baby.

When the mother was at work and the boyfriend was supervising the children, the boyfriend  made sexual advances toward Amy and attempted to rape her, Amy told her mother, who purported to eject the boyfriend from the home. However, he returned the following morning and the mother again left the children home alone with him. Amy contacted her father, who resided in Brooklyn, although she had not seen him for years and had only recently established telephone contact. When she told the father that she planned to run away from her molester, the father solicited the assistance of a relative in Virginia, who picked up Amy and placed her on a bus to New York.

After Amy arrived and described her history of having been molested, the father took her to a hospital. The hospital contacted the State Central Registry and the Administration for Children’s Services (”ACS”).   Amy was sent to the ACS Children’s Center while ACS made arrangements with Georgia DFCS to return Amy to Georgia. The father went to Kings County Family Court and filed a petition for custody, asking New York to exercise temporary emergency jurisdiction to ensure Amy’s safety. The judge assigned CLC and issued an order prohibiting Amy from being removed from New York.

CLC prepared an attorney affirmation, a social work affidavit containing favorable results of the assessment of the father and his household, and another affidavit by the relative who rescued Amy from the mother. CLC also spoke with the Attorney for the Child in Georgia.  These documents were submitted to both the Georgia Court and the Kings County Family Court.

Georgia DFCS requested that the Kings County Family Court return Amy to Georgia immediately. However, after reading the documents prepared by CLC, the Georgia judge supported continuance of temporary emergency jurisdiction allowing Amy to stay with the father in New York pending a hearing on the matter in Georgia. The Family Court elicited testimony from the CLC social worker, spoke to the judge in Georgia, and listened to the compelling arguments by the CLC attorney. Thereafter, the court ordered that Amy remain in New York and granted the father a temporary order of custody.

*Client's names have been changed.

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