The Third Department, reversing Family Court, determined that the goals set by Family Court, moving toward adoption of the child while setting another hearing to see if reunification of the child with mother is possible, were incompatible under the statutes. The intent of Family Court was clear, but the method was not allowed by statute. The matter was sent back for further proceedings:
… [W]e find that Family Court erred in modifying the permanency goal to placement for adoption without directing petitioner to commence a proceeding to terminate respondent’s parental rights. Family Ct Act § 1089 (d) (2) (i) provides that a court may impose one of five specified permanency goals, including “placement for adoption with the local social services official filing a petition for termination of parental rights” … . Nothing in the statutory language permits a permanency goal of placement for adoption to be imposed in the absence of a concurrent petition to terminate the respondent’s parental rights. Further, the statute does not permit “the court [to] select and impose on the parties two or more goals simultaneously” … .
Here, in addition to stating that the permanency goal was being changed to placement for adoption and that no immediate termination proceeding would be commenced, Family Court also stated that another permanency hearing would be scheduled in six months and that it was the court’s “expectation and hope” that the goal could be changed back to reunification at that time. The express language of the permanency order imposes only one goal. However, the effect of the failure to commence termination proceedings and the court’s directions to petitioner regarding services and diligent efforts was to impose two concurrent, contradictory goals of placement for adoption and reunification. Matter of Joseph PP. (Kimberly QQ.), 2019 NY Slip Op 09347, Third Dept 12-26-19