Submitted: August 18, 2017
Below-Family Court of the State of Delaware File No.
CS09-03588, Petition No. 16-15944
STRINE, Chief Justice; VALIHURA and VAUGHN Justices.
L. VALIHURA JUSTICE.
6th day of October 2017, upon consideration of the
parties' briefs, the supplemental filings,  and the record on
appeal, it appears to the Court that:
respondent-appellant, Samantha Price ("Price"),
filed this appeal from the Family Court's order, dated
September 27, 2016, terminating her guardianship over her two
minor nieces, Xenia (born November 10, 2008), and Marci (born
December 4, 2009). We find no error in the Family Court's
judgment. Thus, we affirm.
Price is the sister of the girls' mother
("Mother"). The Family Court named Price the guardian
of Xenia and Marci in August 2009 and December 2009,
respectively, due to Mother's substance abuse and mental
health issues and the unknown identity of either girl's
father. In June 2016, the Division of Family Services
("DFS") received a hotline report about possible
physical abuse of the girls by Price. The hotline report also
alleged that Price was allowing the girls to stay with Mother
while Mother was using drugs and that Mother's housemate
may have been sexually inappropriate with the children.
June 3, 2016, the Family Court entered an emergency ex
parte order awarding custody of the girls to DFS. The
Family Court held a preliminary protective hearing on June 9,
2016 and an adjudicatory hearing on DFS' petition to
rescind Price's guardianship on July 7, 2016. Price
opposed the petition.
testimony at the hearing reflected Price had no negative
history with DFS regarding the girls before the June 2016
hotline report. After the report, DFS began an investigation
that included personal interviews with the girls, one of
Price's biological children, a number of people involved
in the girls' education, counseling, and home life, and
Price herself. Multiple sources stated that the girls had
reported being "beat" with an open hand, a ruler or
other piece of wood, and a flip-flop. Several interviewees
also said they were concerned for the girls' general
well-being and adjustment and were worried that Marci was not
getting proper nutrition or medical care.
Family Court found clear and convincing evidence that Price
had physically abused the girls, that she did not obtain
appropriate medical care for Marci, that she had left the
girls in someone else's care for an extended period of
time, that the girls were not well adjusted to their home,
school, or community while in Price's care, that Price
allowed the children to visit Mother despite Mother's
drug use, and that there was evidence of domestic violence.
After weighing the best interest factors in 13 Del.
C. § 722, the Family Court concluded that it was in
the girls' best interests that Price's guardianship
be rescinded and that DFS be granted custody of the girls.
This appeal followed.
appeal, this Court reviews the Family Court's factual and
legal determinations as well as its inferences and
deductions. We will not disturb the Family Court's
rulings on appeal if the court's findings of fact are
supported by the record and its explanations, deductions, and
inferences are the product of an orderly and logical
reasoning process. We review legal rulings de
novo. If the Family Court correctly applied the
law, then our standard of review is abuse of
discretion. On issues of witness credibility, we will
not substitute our judgment for that of the trier of
her opening brief, Price argues that the Family Court erred
in finding that she had abused the children, that she had
neglected Marci's medical issues, and that the children
were not well-adjusted in her home. Price also contends that
the Family Court erred in accepting the testimony of
witnesses whom Price claimed lied and in not appointing
counsel to represent her. Price does not argue that the
Family Court misapplied or misinterpreted the law.
Under 13 Del. C. § 2512(b), the Family Court
may award custody of a child to the State only if the parties
agree or, after a hearing, the Family Court finds: (i) as to
each parent that the child is dependent, neglected, or
abused; and (ii) it is in the child's best interest to
award custody to the State. To determine the best interest of
the child, the court must consider all relevant factors as
outlined in 13 Del. C. § 722.
Under Section 722, the Family Court considers "all
relevant factors" including: (1) the wishes of the
parents and the child as to his or her custody and
residential arrangement; (2) the wishes of the child as to
his or her custodian or custodians and residential
arrangements; (3) the interaction and interrelationship of
the child with his or her parents, grandparents, siblings,
persons cohabiting in the relationship of husband and wife
with a parent of the child, any other residents of the
household or persons who may significantly affect the
child's best interests; (4) the child's adjustment to
his or her home, school and community; (5) the mental and
physical health of all individuals involved; (6) past and
present compliance by both parents with their rights and
responsibilities to their child under § 701 of this
title; (7) evidence of domestic violence as provided for in
Chapter 7A of this title; and (8) the criminal history of any
party or any other resident of the household including
whether the criminal history contains pleas of guilty or no
contest or a conviction of a criminal offense. These factors