By Brad Jenkins (JD ’13)
Brad Jenkins (JD ’13)
In 2008, our client gave birth to her son. She was 19 years old. That same year, our client was arrested for a crime for which she was later acquitted. She was also in an abusive relationship with the father of her child, who was convicted of assault and battery against her. After her charge was resolved, DCF became involved because of allegations of neglect. Our client did not have stable housing, was moving from place to place, and did not have a high school diploma. Due to her difficult circumstances, she voluntarily assented to a guardianship for her son with the paternal grandmother acting as a guardian.
For the next several years, our client embarked on an extensive process to achieve the stability necessary to serve as her son’s primary custodian. By agreement, a progressive parenting plan was established by which she gained successively more parenting time with her son. For the 10 months prior to trial, she had custody of her son for three full days per week. She also obtained stable housing, got her GED and a medical assistant certificate, and successfully extricated herself from the relationships and behaviors that had given DCF concerns. However, despite her remarkable progress, the guardian refused to continue with the progressive transition of custody and objected to the termination of the guardianship.
Over the course of a six day trial, we presented evidence of our client’s progress as well as the now central role that she played in her son’s life. The guardian tried to emphasize our client’s past, attacked the character of our client’s current partner, and argued that she was a preferable custodian for the child. However, the judge credited the substantial positive role that our client and her partner play in the child’s life, and ultimately found that the guardianship should be dissolved because our client was fit to resume her parental responsibilities.