The Fourth Department, reversing Family Court, determined: (1) Family Court did not follow the statutory procedure for serving father with the order of fact-finding and disposition and, therefore, father’s appeal was timely; and (2) father’s striking the child once during a multi-person melee, after the child threw a rock at father’s car, did not constitute neglect:
… “[T]here is no evidence in the record that the father was served with the order of fact-finding and disposition by a party or the child’s attorney, that he received the order in court, or that the Family Court mailed the order to the father” … . Instead, despite using a form order that provided typewritten check boxes for the two methods of service by the court mentioned in the statute (i.e., in court or by mail) … , the court here crossed out the word “mailed” and edited the form to indicate that the order was emailed to, among others, the father’s attorney. The statute, however, does not provide for service by the court through email or any other electronic means … . … Inasmuch as the father was served the order by the court via email, which is not a method provided for in Family Court Act § 1113, and there is no indication that he was served by any of the methods authorized by the statute, we conclude that the time to take an appeal did not begin to run and that it cannot be said that the father’s appeal is untimely … .* * *
… [W]e conclude that, “[g]iven the age of the subject child, the provocation, and the dynamics of the incident, the [father’s] act against [the child] did not constitute neglect” … . The record establishes that, during the course of a multi-person melee that included the 15-year-old sister beating up the 18-year-old daughter of the father’s girlfriend, the 14-year-old child threw a rock at the vehicle causing the window to break, to which provocation the father instantly reacted by striking the child once either in the face or the back of the head … . Petitioner presented no evidence that the child sustained any injury or required medical treatment as a result of the single strike by the father during the altercation, and the police who investigated the incident did not file any charges … . Matter of Grayson S. (Thomas S.), 2022 NY Slip Op 05649, Fourth Dept 10-7-22
Practice Point: Here father was served with the order of fact-finding and disposition by email, a method not prescribed by Family Court Act 1113. Therefore the 30-day time limit for bringing an appeal did not apply and father’s appeal was timely. Father struck the 14-year-old child once during a multi-person melee after the child broke the window of father’s car with a rock. Father’s striking the child, which did not cause injury, did not constitute neglect.