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Thompson v. Division of Family Services

Supreme Court of Delaware

November 18, 2014

VIVIAN A. THOMPSON, [1] Respondent Below, Appellant,
v.
DIVISION OF FAMILY SERVICES, Petitioner Below, Appellee

Submitted October 30, 2014

Case Closed December 4, 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. 12-10-1TK. Petition No. 12-32909.

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

ORDER

Karen L. Valihura, Justice

This 18th day of November 2014, upon consideration of the appellant's brief filed under Supreme Court Rule 26.1(c), her attorney's motion to withdraw, and the response and motion to affirm filed by the Division of Family Services (" DFS" ), it appears to the Court that:

(1) The Family Court terminated the parental rights of the appellant, Vivian A. Thompson (" Mother" ), with respect to her four-year-old son, Chad,[2] in an order dated July 9, 2014.[3] This is Mother's appeal from the termination of her parental rights.

(2) Mother's appointed counsel has filed an opening brief and a motion to withdraw under Supreme Court Rule 26.1(c). Counsel asserts that she has reviewed the record and has determined that no arguable claim for appeal exists. By letter, Mother's counsel informed Mother of the provisions of Rule 26.1(c) and provided her with a copy of the motion to withdraw and accompanying brief. Although notified of her right to submit points for this Court's consideration, Mother has not submitted any points. DFS has filed a response to counsel's Rule 26.1 brief and has moved to affirm the Family Court's judgment.

(3) The record reflects that Chad was born in March 2010. In July 2010, DFS opened a treatment case for Mother because Mother was unable to meet the medical needs of Chad and Chad was too young to protect himself and make his needs known. Throughout 2010 and 2011, DFS had concerns regarding where Mother resided, her mental health, and Chad's delayed development. In 2012, DFS became concerned that Chad was not safe in Mother's presence and that Mother's mental health issues remained untreated.

(4) On March 29, 2012, the Family Court granted DFS's emergency petition for custody of Chad. The Family Court concluded that there were sufficient emergency conditions indicating that Chad was dependent, neglected, and/or abused and should not remain in Mother's care because Mother had serious mental health problems and could not provide the necessary care and protection for Chad.

(5) A preliminary protective hearing was held on April 4, 2012. Counsel was appointed to represent Mother, who contested DFS's actions. After hearing testimony, the Family Court held that Chad continued to be dependent or neglected, there was probable cause for DFS to have temporary custody, and that DFS had made reasonable efforts to prevent placement of Chad outside the home of his natural parents.

(6) An adjudicatory hearing was held on May 16, 2012. The Family Court was advised that Mother agreed to Chad remaining in the custody of DFS and had signed a case plan before the hearing. The elements of the case plan included, among other things, Mother maintaining safe and stable housing, developing a household budget, working with a parent aide to obtain a better understanding of child development, undergoing a psychological examination, following any treatment recommendations, and signing consent forms so DFS could communicate with her mental health providers. The Family Court concluded that DFS made ...


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