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Ralph Duthely

Ralph Duthely’s Answers

345 total


  • I live in rochester,ny and would like to sue cps. They came in june and took my kids and have yet to have a full hearing.

    i am a low income citizen but I know what they are doing is wrong but there is no one to help me. my kids have been gone since june 2013, I just need an attorney to help call out Cps for the liars they are. Please someone help

    Ralph’s Answer

    Unfortunately, the law gives CPS almost unlimited power to remove children in order to protect them from imminent risk of abuse or neglect. CPS is required to go to court and seek a court order prior to removal or, in the case of emergency removal, to go to court on the next day that court is open in order to get court approval for the removal. If your child has been removed, it was done with court approval. You should have been notified to come to court. You are entitled to a "1028 hearing" within 3 days of the initial appearance. If you are low income, an attorney should have been assigned to you. He or she should be able to advise you regarding your concerns. None of that gives you a cause of action against ACS for the removal. I have never heard of a successful lawsuit against ACS on that basis.

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  • What is child neglect & what are the consequences of reporting neglect to CPS, especially to the person doing the reporting?

    My niece and nephew have food, clothing and shelter,etc., but are being supported mostly by my mother. Nephew is 13 years old and is autistic, with behavior problems, and Niece is 9 years old. Niece and nephew live with my mother in her home, al...

    Ralph’s Answer

    The conduct you describe (poverty) is not the type that CPS was designed to cure. Your sister should apply for government assistance if she has no other means of supporting herself and the children. DSS will then file against the father for support. Also, your sister should file a child support enforcement petition. The father is responsible for helping care for his children. Your mother has no legal obligation to care for the children. If she feels that, as a grandmother, she should do this then she should file for custody and seek financial help from the government or seek child support from both parents.

    As Mr. Dubose points out, it is never wise to get CPS involved in your life if you don't absolutely have to.

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  • I'm moving form NY to VA. I have foster kinship grandparent of my 3 grandchildren.

    I was told by the ACS agency that I couldn't take them. They want to place them into another home. I have a set of twins and a 3 year old. They will separate them. I have told the caseworker for over 2 months about this. She has done nothi...

    Ralph’s Answer

    It is a complicated issue because ACS has the duty to try to reunite the children with their parents. That requires supervision of the children and visitation for the parents. If the children leave the State, the parents cannot effectively maintain a visitation schedule. Also, ACS is often concerned that the foster parent is moving away in order to allow the parent to have unfettered contact with the children. That being said, you can get court permission to relocate. It involves an interstate home study (ICPC) and monitoring by the State you are moving to. That is a somewhat lengthy process. If you move before the new state approves the transfer, it will be rejected permanently. You must remain in NYS until the ICPC is approved.

    On the next court date, you should appear and ask the court to appoint an attorney to you. If your income qualifies you, you can have assigned counsel. Otherwise, I advise that you hire and attorney. Good luck.

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  • How do I change a visitation order?

    My children refuse to have contact with their father. There is a court ordered visitation in affect. I tried filing for a modification but it was dismissed without prejudice.

    Ralph’s Answer

    Dismissed without prejudice means either you did not appear or there was something deficient in your papers and they need to be refiled. There was no actual decision on the merits of your claim. Just go back to court and refile. Have the papers properly served and bring an affidavit of service to court on the return date.

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  • My husband hid my stuff from me. Can I call the cop? If I do call the cop, what would happen to him?

    Our daughter has been misbehaving. She had lost a few things at school and constantly forgot to bring her homework home. I had told her if she continued to misbehave, I would take her toys away from her. And I did. When my husband found out, he...

    Ralph’s Answer

    This should remain an internal matter. Work it out among yourselves. Calling the police will hurt your husband, yourself and your family in the long run. It sounds like he is trying to get you to feel what it is like to have something of yours taken away. It seems silly for an adult to do that to another adult. If the two of you disagree on parenting techniques, you should seek a parenting class, where the two of you will have a neutral third party professional provide tips on how to discipline a child.

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  • Is there any laws in New York state where a teen's rights is protected and not be put in a situation to choose between parents?

    Dad served order of protection against mom , so dad could cause and inflict more serious parental alienation which gave him the time to brain-wash children against mom. Mom does have ' joint legal custody' in this matter. Last week went to the in...

    Ralph’s Answer

    Often times, in OP cases, judges will not appoint an attorney for the child (at least in NYC). Unless the case has gone to trial, the attorney does not yet have the opportunity to "present evidence." That is only done when the trial begins. Sometimes, the litigant, not understanding the law and court procedure, just wants the attorney to do something that is not (yet) appropriate. The temporary order continues (usually unmodified) until a trial is held or there is a settlement of the case. The mother should speak to her attorney asap to get a better understanding of what is going on with the case. Otherwise, do as Ms. Fiss suggests and hire private counsel.

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  • What can I do when the person who is supposed to supervise the visits between my ex and my son leaves them alone?

    My son came home from his supervised visit with his mother and told me that my ex's uncle who is the one that's supposed to supervise left them alone for more then an hour at the mall. Can I do anything about this? I will be talking to my lawyer a...

    Ralph’s Answer

    The only caveat that I would offer is that sometimes the supervisor sits a short distance away in order to allow the parent to interact freely with the child. That is not impermissible. Sometimes, to a child, that might seem like they were left alone when, in fact, they weren't.

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  • I am a non custodial parent in NYC paying court ordered child support for my 17 1/2 yr old daughter, does it end automatically?

    She lives with her mom in Florida, and will turn 18 in April, will my support order end once she graduates High School in may? She will not be attending college, so how can I end my payments???

    Ralph’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    Which state issued the order is determinative of when it will end. Theoretically, it should end automatically but keep an eye at the appropriate time to make sure. If the order is from NY (which runs to 21yo), the fact that she is not enrolling in college does not mean it ends. If she is working full time and moves out on her own, you can file a petition seeking to stop child support based on her emancipation. Good luck.

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  • What are adverse inference and directed verdict as they pertain to family court?

    My son's mother and I are in the midst of a custody trial. I've testified about some pretty compelling issues in her household, i.e. history of child abuse/domestic abuse involving her roommates, problems in school with her other children (one in...

    Ralph’s Answer

    The other attorneys have satisfactorily answered your question. I would only add that generally an adverse inference is taken against a party who herself fails to testify. It is less likely that a judge will draw an adverse inference against a party when a witness does not testify. Sometimes, that is due to factors beyond the party's control. Of course, if someone alleges that their spouse, or someone close to them, was a witness to an incident (a crucial witness) but the party makes no attempt to bring in that witness, the court could consider that.

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  • Will filling for primary physical custody in family court w/o a lawyer hurt my chances in the long run?

    Spouse gave up 50/50 personal (not legal) custody agreement nearly 1 year ago, now wants it back. I feel it would be a negative impact on the children, but can not prove it. I feel like i need to act quickly, but I have not yet found a lawyer. Do ...

    Ralph’s Answer

    If you are opposed to joint custody, the court will not impose it on you because it requires voluntary cooperation between the parties. As for a lawyer, if you qualify, you can ask for a court-appointed attorney. Otherwise, on your first appearance, you can ask for an adjournment to retain counsel. These matters are rarely resolved on the first appearance.

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