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Matter of Makynli N. - 2007 NY Slip Op 52162(U), 17 Misc. 3d 1127(A), 851 N.Y.S.2d 70 (Fam. Ct.)

Rule:

If a respondent fully complies with the terms of a suspended judgment order, the court may vacate the finding and dismiss the underlying neglect petition if both it is in the children's best interests and the court's aid is no longer required under FCA § 1051 (c) 

Facts:

By petition filed August 31, 2005, Monroe County Department of Human Services (“Petitioner”) alleged that Malcolm H., Sr. (“Father”) abused and neglected his four sons Malcolm H., Jr., Jonah H., Caleb H. and Noah H. and his two step-sons, the biological sons of co-respondent Jennifer H. (Respondent), Makynli N. and Tajae W.. After Father consented to a neglect finding on July 26, 2006, the family court proceeded with a contested dispositional hearing (Family Court Act § 1052). Father requested that the court suspend judgment pursuant to FCA § 1053 and both Petitioner and Law Guardian opposed such disposition. After hearing, the court suspended judgment. The suspended judgment order expired on its own terms on July 6, 2007. Petitioner neither filed a violation petition nor sought to extend the order. Indeed, Petitioner admitted both that Father complied with the terms of the dispositional order and the boys were doing well in his care. Father sought an order vacating the consent neglect finding and dismissing the Family Court Act (“FCA”) Article 10 petition filed against him. 

Issue:

Is a father who complied with all terms of a dispositional order suspending judgment entitled to vacatur of the consent neglect finding and dismissal of the petition filed against him?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court held that if a respondent fully complies with the terms of a suspended judgment order, the court may vacate the finding and dismiss the underlying neglect petition if both it is in the children's best interests and the court's aid is no longer required under FCA § 1051 (c). It was undisputed that Father complied with all terms of the suspended judgment order. Petitioner neither filed a violation petition pursuant to FCA § 1071 nor sought an extension of the dispositional order. Father testified that he complied with all ordered services. The court found that it was in the boys' best interests that Father be afforded such professional development opportunities permitting him to be an everyday presence in his young sons' lives. The boys were thriving in Father's care and he was the only parent they had to rely on. The Law Guardian supported Father's motion as being in the boys' best interests.

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