The Second Department, reversing Family Court, determined the court never held a hearing on the newly filed derivative neglect petition (re: Vincent). The three-day fact-finding hearing related only to the neglect petition (re: Serena). At the subsequent dispositional hearing, the court improperly consolidated the two petitions:
The right to due process encompasses a “meaningful opportunity to be heard” at a fact-finding hearing on a neglect petition … , and to “present evidence relevant to the proceedings” … . Accordingly, the proceeding with respect to Vincent must be remitted to the Family Court … for a fact-finding hearing, in order to afford the parties an opportunity to introduce evidence relevant to the petition to adjudicate Vincent a derivatively neglected child, including, among other things, whether at the time the neglect petition was filed with respect to Vincent the mother had resolved the issues that were the basis of the finding of neglect as to Serena … . Matter of Serena G. (Monica M.), 2022 NY Slip Op 04547, Second Dept 7-13-22
Practice Point: Here the court held a hearing which was confined to the neglect petition re: Serena and did not address the newly-filed derivative neglect petition re: Vincent. By combining the two petitions for the dispositional hearing mother was deprived of an opportunity to be heard (due process) on the derivative neglect petition.