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ACS Unable to Show Child Endangered by Mother’s Mental Illness

Picture of parents shaking hands with child holding their wrists

The Administration of Children’s Services (hereinafter referred to as “ACS”) brought a petition under Article 10 of the Family Court Act. The petition alleged the mother was mentally ill. ACS claimed this impaired her ability to take care of her son, Gavin. They claimed this resulted in Gavin being neglected. Gavin was initially removed from the mother’s household but was subsequently returned to the mother. Support and other services were put in place for the mother. The mother was psychiatrically institutionalized again in the following year. ACS brought another petition seeking to return Gavin to custody of the Commission of the Department of Social Services. Initially the court granted this relief. Gavin was put in a non-kinship foster home. A hearing was held. The court took into consideration that mental illness does not require a finding of neglect. Children should not be removed even if a parent has mental illness unless it is found the parent’s illness creates an eminent risk to the child’s health or well-being. In this case the court found that ACS failed to establish Gavin was in eminent risk or danger as a result of the mother’s mental illness. The court took into consideration the mother was consistent with regard to her mental health treatment. She cooperated with regard to the services that were provided to her.

The court denied ACS’s application with regard to Gavin’s custody. Gavin was returned to the custody of the mother and the mother was to continue with the services provided by ACS.

Conclusion

Attorney Elliot Schlissel

Even individuals with mental health problems can be loving, sincere and dedicated parents. The fact an individual has some type of mental issues does not necessarily prevent him or her from raising a child and maintaining the child’s best interest.

Valley Stream, Lynbrook, Baldwin, Malverne, Freeport, Oceanside, Long Beach, Elmont, Lakeview, West Hempstead, Hempstead, Merrick, Bellmore

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