From Mom to Not in Seven Minutes: Inside Family Court

logo_new

City Limits spent months observing Family Court and found an overburdened system where delays were endemic, legal help was scarce and the approach to solving family problems was divided. This is the first chapter in our report.

The lives of the city’s most vulnerable citizens—tens of thousands of its neediest children—are irrevocably shaped by the decisions handed down in Family Court, yet the children themselves are rarely present. A woman in a white puffy coat and her lawyer sit at a blond-wood conference table on the left side of the courtroom. On the right, a lawyer for the city and a caseworker from the city’s child protective agency fill a twin conference table. A lawyer for the child who is the focus of the hearing sits at a small side table, barricaded by stacks of folders and binders. The judge sits at the center of a low, wood-paneled dais. Her court attorney, two clerical workers, and a pair of armed, uniformed court clerks populate the front of the courtroom, under the “In God We Trust” emblazoned in brushed-metal capital letters on the wall, as the court reporter quietly taps out the record. The woman is in court to formally terminate her parental rights—to “free” her 8-year-old son, who has spent most of his life in the foster care of another woman, for adoption. Papers are shuffled and submitted to the judge for scrutiny. Lawyers stand up and sit down again. The mother is asked if she understands everything that is happening in the court: “This surrender document is final and irrevocable. You can never take it back,” the judge says, slowly and clearly. The woman says she understands. Another woman, rising from her bench in the small gallery section, is the child’s foster mother, with whom he’s lived for six of his eight years. She says she wants to adopt the child; she says he calls her Mommy. The woman in the puffy coat keeps her eyes fixed forward. (The child’s father came inebriated to one earlier court session and has not returned for this proceeding, which will, in absentia, end his legal fatherhood.) Seven minutes after the hearing is called to order and the participants sworn to tell the truth, the matter is concluded: The boy is freed—no longer the child of his biological mother—and will be adopted by the foster mother, who wants him. The child himself is absent from the courtroom and, quite possibly, silent in the case. It is not clear whether the judge spoke with him at all. His young age means that his consent was not required. The boy’s biological mom zips her coat and strides out of the courtroom, boot heels clicking on the tan linoleum tile: No tears, or none visible. The lawyers gather their papers and belongings. The clerk calls, “Next case.” Blood ties broken, new ties forged, in under 10 minutes. Next case. A quiet crisis Every day in New York City, mothers and fathers stand up in Family Court to hear a judge say they must sever all ties to their biological child. In courtrooms from the Grand Concourse in the Bronx to Richmond Terrace in Staten Island, other parents face charges of child abuse and neglect, their children removed to foster care—a return home uncertain, sometimes impossible. Meanwhile, hundreds thrash out custody arrangements and child support deals; some argue over paternity or beg the court to take charge of their wayward child. Others simply wait. They wait to see children detained in juvenile justice proceedings, who are held out of view and escorted to proceedings in handcuffs. They wait for court clerks to help them swear out orders of protection against abusive or violent spouses (or children). They wait for judges and lawyers to meet and render judgment. Children are at the heart of every proceeding every day in every Family Court chamber in New York City, whether as defendants awaiting juvenile justice proceedings or children needing adult care or, most often, victims of the abuse and neglect that sunders thousands of city families each year. The lives of the city’s most vulnerable citizens—tens of thousands of its neediest children—are irrevocably shaped by the decisions handed down in Family Court, yet the children themselves are rarely present and are almost always silent. Absent along with the children is the attention of most of New York City to the human drama that plays out, over vast expanses of time and at taxpayer expense, in the halls and chambers of each borough’s Family Court. Every few years, a young life somewhere in New York is extinguished or scarred by abuse so horrifying that the tabloid ink flows in rivers. Politicians call for reform. Bills are proposed and speeches made. Then, inexorably, the outrage fades. Family Court, however, grinds on. Today, those twin aspects of Family Court—its obscurity and its inertia—coupled with profoundly crippling economic pressure, make the situation playing out there increasingly precarious.  

1 thought on “From Mom to Not in Seven Minutes: Inside Family Court

  1. Our bedroom is one of the main rooms inside our home since this is
    a destination for our day to day leisure & to offload our stress and exertion.
    So that it is obviously important as well as natural
    that people take out a while from our active lives to consider our
    perfect bedroom accessories because from our mood, to the way we feel in that space will almost totally rely upon the sort of furniture we get.

    A modern day styled bedroom always manages to make one feel right when they enter the home
    just. Although there’s a lot of involvement of day light
    through windows but, only those light relaxed images and colors are chosen to sooth the heart of
    an person. The colour and finish of each furniture piece that you like in your modern day styled bedroom is a mixture of your light shade of color with strong prints and patterns.

    Let’s observe how each element of bedroom accessories needs specific attention when you are out for shopping!

    Island Of Restful Quiet, Your Foundation: When you get
    bedroom accessories online, the first furniture going to your
    buy list should be your foundation because almost every other furniture that you get to put in the bed room will majorly rely upon design, size,
    and undoubtedly cover from the sun of your foundation. The real reason for accomplishing this is
    that the other bits of bedroom furniture
    should be appropriate for your bed. Bedrooms crafted
    with modern-day style include chic luxury and smooth ivory shades.
    A foundation that is coated in outstanding white or cream hue helps to produce a restful atmosphere in your bedroom.
    The thing to be anxious about is how big is the bed.

    You will need to gauge the proportions of your bedroom and appropriately decide whether you will want King size foundation or
    a Queen size foundation.

    Winsome Attire: Get a closet that is appealing externally and spacious from inside.
    A lovely clothing collection shall make a dazzling declaration in your master suite.
    For a huge assortment of clothes go for impressively large wardrobe as it’ll
    never look imposing because of its warm vanilla or cream paint finish.
    If you like gray color carry out, then it shall put in a touch of fashionable light in the aura of your bedroom,
    but with that, it will be an eyesight catchy part. The modern day feel of the room fuses with a touch
    of country cottage charm. In the foreseeable future although you may intend to change the
    colour scheme of your bedroom, this attire shall never leave your
    area.

    Breathtaking Bedside furniture: Present your bed a set
    of bedside tables that may be put on the either part from it for
    a rustic appeal and luxury. A chunky little cabinet shall be
    perfect that you can keep an alarm clock, lamp, as well as your phone.
    Plus the useful dovetailed drawers shall be looking after your entire bedtime essentials.

    With so many uses this bedside tables is a delight among all the bed room furniture
    pieces.

    Dignifying Dressing Dining tables: A dressing desk adds an image of style
    and take pleasure in our bedroom. This is actually the place that each woman needs in her bedroom while she actually is planning for a meal date,
    a trip to work or removing make-up prior to going to bed it can be an essential area of the bedroom accessories.
    While concluding the group of bedroom accessories, a dressing desk also provides you an opportunity
    to take a look into yourself in it, once you go by it
    and recover it will manage the exquisite assortment of your cosmetic makeup products and accessories.

    But also for an all out modern day styled bedroom, you need to ingest use wealthy color strategies and artworks.
    You are able to suspend attractive and vibrant paintings on the wall surfaces
    of your bedroom that follow a certain structure. Similarly, with a light color finish bed,
    you can placed on excellent color foundation cushion and bed sheets addresses.

    you can as much patterns and prints that you would like but don’t over stuff things.
    You merely need to keep in mind that all you decide for your bedroom should talk
    about the style that you will be willing to job.
    Keep, all plain things in mind while buying a bedroom furniture for a modern day bedroom
    decor!

    Very good website you have here but I was wanting to know if
    you knew of any message boards that cover the same topics talked about
    in this article? I’d really love to be a part of
    community where I can get feedback from other knowledgeable individuals that share
    the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.
    Bless you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *