Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Parents do have some constitutional rights

I just found some encouragement from a 1982 US Supreme Court decision. Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745 (1982), ruled 5-4 that the way New York state was terminating parental rights was unconstitutional. NY had said that only a "fair preponderance of the evidence" was needed. The court said:
Today we hold that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment demands more than this. Before a State may sever completely and irrevocably the rights of parents in their natural child, due process requires that the State support its allegations by at least clear and convincing evidence.
I have a court appearance on Tues. morning, and I guess this means that the judge cannot terminate my parental rights at that hearing. There is no clear and convincing evidence of anything, except that my wife wants to abuse the system to get more money out of me.

You might say that this case doesn't apply to me, because I just have a routine custody dispute, and the State is not terminating all my rights. The State shrink says that I can still have 2 weekend visits per month. But my wife's pending motion is for "sole legal custody". That sounds like a termination of my rights to me. It seems to me that once there is a motion to terminate my rights, then I have all the due process rights of that 1982 Supreme Court decision.

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