Attorney David J. Strachman was recently successful in the Rhode Island Supreme Court in defending a Family Court trial decision permitting a step parent to adopt his two step-sons. In his opinion for the Rhode Island Supreme Court, Justice Robinson detailed the evidence of the case and found that the respondent to the petition made very few attempts to visit with or care for his children, even when he had the freedom and financial ability to. After hearing testimony from both of the children as well as testimony on both sides, the courts agreed with the petitioner after the respondent could not successfully rebut the prima facie evidence of abandonment.
The case originally came before the Family Court 2015 when Sandra and Gorvey Armand petitioned to allow Gorvey to become the legal father of her sons. When the biological father refused to consent, the petitioners moved to terminate his parental rights entirely. Attorney Strachman represented the Gorveys during the months long trial and on appeal.
The original trial held in Family Court established that the father had not seen or visited the boys in over two years, even when he had the ability to do so. Additionally, he had not set up a visitation schedule he would seek visitation “out-of-the-blue.” Evidence demonstrated that he had not paid any form of child support payment in many years, and was entirely absent from the care of the children, which had instead been given by their stepfather over the years.
The biological father argued that his absence was due to his serving a two-year jail sentence, and that he would visit with the boys for substantial time. He claimed he had purchased things for them, including cell phones, and had given them money on at least one instance. Furthermore, he claimed he would visit with them whenever he was not incarcerated.
Both of the boys cited a positive relationship and “reliability” from their stepfather as reasoning for wishing to be formally adopted. The younger of the two boys, even stated he was “mad” about his biological father’s repeated incarcerations.
Ultimately, the Family Court decided that it was in the best interests of both boys to have the respondent’s parental rights terminated. On appeal, the Rhode Island Supreme Court found that the respondent’s parental rights were “properly terminated on the ground of abandonment pursuant to § 15-7-7(a)(4). The court wrote: “An incarcerated parent who fails to ‘actively engag[e] in efforts to contact’ his or her child ‘despite having opportunities to do so’ runs the very real risk of it being held that the parent has ‘abandoned the child.’”
At McIntyre Tate, LLP, we take great pride in helping families pursue adoptions and other Family Court issues. Our team of Rhode Island family attorneys is well-versed and has substantial experience in family law, earning numerous professional awards and accolades for our dedication to our practice and ethical conduct. We strive to put your needs at the forefront of our strategy and we remain dedicated to helping you overcome your issue quickly and in a satisfying fashion.