The Second Department, reversing Family Court, determined the finding of neglect was not supported:
To establish neglect, a petitioner must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence, ‘first, that [the] child’s physical, mental or emotional condition has been impaired or is in imminent danger of becoming impaired and second, that the actual or threatened harm to the child is a consequence of the failure of the parent . . . to exercise a minimum degree of care in providing the child with proper supervision or guardianship’ . ‘Actual or imminent danger of impairment is a prerequisite to a finding of neglect [which] ensures that the Family Court, in deciding whether to authorize state intervention, will focus on serious harm or potential harm to… the child, not just on what might be deemed undesirable parental behavior’ … .
… The evidence adduced at the fact-finding hearing demonstrated that the mother and the child have a difficult relationship caused, in significant part, by the mother’s disapproval of the child’s behavior and the child’s unwillingness to abide by her mother’s rules, and the fact that the child had disciplinary problems at home and at school. Contrary to the court’s determination, there was insufficient evidence to prove that the mother ever struck the child at the relevant time. While the petition alleged that the mother, during an argument with the child … locked the child in a storage room, the child testified that she herself ran into the storage room, locked the door, and was not physically hurt. This argument arose when the mother told the child that she could not go out that night. At that time, when the neglect is alleged to have occurred, the child had been residing with the mother for only one day, having lived in foster care for approximately two years. Moreover, although the petition alleged that the mother was required to make alternate living arrangements for the child since the child could no longer reside with the maternal grandmother and refused to reside with the mother, the mother’s desire to have the child reside with her does not support a finding of neglect. Finally, the evidence adduced at the fact-finding hearing of the mother’s insults and name-calling, while certainly counterproductive and inappropriate, does not rise to the level of establishing a failure to provide the child with proper supervision or guardianship or demonstrate a resulting impairment or imminent danger of impairment of the child’s physical, mental, or emotional condition … . Matter of Alexandra R.-M. (Sonia R.), 2020 NY Slip Op 00280, Second Dept 1-17-20