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January v. Division of Family Services

Supreme Court of Delaware

April 28, 2014

MATTHEW J. JANUARY, SR., Respondent Below-Appellant,
v.
DIVISION OF FAMILY SERVICES, Petitioner Below-Appellee

Argued April 16, 2014.

Motion for Rehearing filed 5/7/14; Denied 5/9/14. Case Closed May 14, 2014.

Editorial Note:

This decision has been designated as "Table of Decisions Without Published Opinions." in the Atlantic Reporter.

Court Below: Family Court of the State of Delaware, in and for Kent County. File No. 12-08-2TK. Petition No. 12-27059.

Before STRINE, Chief Justice, BERGER, and RIDGELY, Justices.

OPINION

Leo E. Strine, Jr., Chief Justice.

ORDER

This 28th day of April 2014, upon consideration of the briefs of the parties and the record in this case, it appears to the Court that:

(1) The appellant, Matthew J. January, Sr. (the " Father" ), appeals from the Family Court's order of November 19, 2013 terminating his parental rights in four of his minor children (collectively, the " Children" ).[1] The Father argues that the Family Court's decision that the best interests of the Children weighed in favor of terminating the Father's parental rights was not supported by clear and convincing evidence. We find no merit to the Father's appeal.

(2) After considering the Father's arguments, we affirm on the basis of the Family Court's order of November 19, 2013. The Family Court's decision is thorough and well supported by the factual record, and its legal analysis of the best interest factors set out in 13 Del. C. § 722(a) logically supports the termination of the Father's parental rights.

(3) Because our decision is based on these grounds, we need not reach the issue of whether the Family Court properly found that the Father was not a " perpetrator of domestic violence" within the specific meaning of 13 Del. C . § 703A, despite his conviction for aggravated menacing for conduct that was directed at the other parent of his children.[2] That statutory definition would be relevant to creating a rebuttable presumption against awarding custody of a child in a custody proceeding,[3] but it does not have any apparent relevance to termination of parental rights proceedings. Nonetheless, the Family Court opined that the Father was not a perpetrator of domestic violence within the meaning of § 703A(b). We do not need to decide whether the Family Court had to make that determination or whether that determination was correct. If the Father was in fact a perpetrator of domestic violence within the statutory definition of § 703A(b), that simply would have provided additional support for the Family Court's determination under § 722(a)(7) that the Father's lengthy history of domestic violence weighed heavily in favor of the termination of his parental rights.[4]

NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that the judgment of the Family Court is AFFIRMED.


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