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Defelice v. Div. of Family Servs.

Supreme Court of Delaware

September 9, 2014

DANIEL DEFELICE, Respondent-Below, Appellant,
v.
DIVISION OF FAMILY SERVICES, Petitioner-Below, Appellee

Submitted June 30, 2014

Case Closed September 25, 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 New Castle County. File No. 12-09-04TN, CPI No. 12-31402.

Before STRINE, Chief Justice, HOLLAND and VALIHURA, Justices.

ORDER

Leo E. Strine, Jr., Chief Justice

This 9th day of September 2014, upon consideration of the appellant's brief filed under Supreme Court Rule 26.1 (" Rule 26.1" ), his attorney's motion to withdraw, and the responses of the appellee and the guardian ad litem, it appears to the Court that:

(1) The appellant, Daniel DeFelice (" DeFelice" ), filed this appeal from the Family Court's order of December 23, 2013, terminating his parental rights in his child, Samantha, born on October 1, 2011.[1] Samantha's mother's parental rights were terminated on June 4, 2013, and are not at issue in this appeal.

(2) On appeal, DeFelice's counsel (" Counsel" ) has filed an opening brief and a motion to withdraw under Rule 26.1. Counsel asserts that, based upon a complete and careful examination of the record, there are no arguably appealable issues. DeFelice responded to Counsel's presentation with a written submission that raises several claims. The appellee, Division of Family Services (" DFS" ), and the guardian ad litem have responded to the position taken by Counsel as well as the issues raised by DeFelice and have moved to affirm the judgment of the Family Court.

(3) On October 11, 2011, DFS was granted emergency custody of ten-day old Samantha after filing a petition alleging that she was dependent and neglected in her parents' care. At the October 18, 2011, preliminary protective hearing, and at each of the mandated review hearings that followed, the Family Court found that Samantha was dependent, and that DFS was making reasonable efforts to reunify the family.[2]

(4) On December 9, 2011, DeFelice entered into a reunification case plan with DFS.[3] The case plan described " the services to be provided by [DFS] . . . to correct the conditions which necessitated state intervention" [4] and DeFelice's " duties and responsibilities . . . to correct the identified problems . . . to achieve [reunification]." [5]

(5) Under the case plan, DeFelice was required to " obtain and maintain" appropriate housing and employment, have weekly visitation with Samantha, attend her medical appointments while she was in state care, take a parenting course, get both substance abuse and mental health evaluations, and follow through with any recommended treatment. Also, DeFelice, who pled guilty in 1997 to two counts of Unlawful Sexual Penetration in the Third Degree (" USP" ),[6] was required under the case plan (as he was under his Superior Court sentence) to comply with the sex offender registration requirements mandated by law.[7]

(6) On September 18, 2012, DFS filed a petition to terminate DeFelice's parental rights on the ground that he had failed " to plan adequately for [Samantha's] physical needs or mental and emotional health and development." [8] At an October 22, 2012, permanency hearing, more than a year after Samantha was taken into state care, the Family Court changed the goal of the case plan from reunification to termination after finding that DeFelice was incarcerated, had not had contact with DFS ...


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