New York’s High Court Holds That Child Placement Compact Does Not Apply When an Out-of-State Parent Seeks Custody
Custody issues involving an out-of-state parent can be very complicated. In some cases, rules designed to protect young people can hinder a parent’s ability to reunite with their child. One example of this is the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). This agreement, signed by all 50 states and the District of Columbia, is meant to ensure that out-of-state foster parents undergo a lengthy review process before a youth is sent to their home.
However, the language of the ICPC is somewhat ambiguous, and New York courts had held that the stringent requirements apply not only to prospective foster parents, but also biological parents living elsewhere. Under the rules, parents could be forced to wait years before their son or daughter was even allowed to visit their home. This changed in New York when the state’s Court of Appeals ruled that the ICPC does not apply when a biological mother or father who resides in another state is seeking custody of their child.
In the case, Davlin Laland of North Carolina had tried for years to reunite with his daughter, who had been neglected by her mother in New York. Suffolk County’s Office of Children and Family Services opposed Mr. Laland’s attempts to take custody of his daughter, claiming that the ICPC required North Carolina authorities to review and approve his fitness as a parent before the child could be left in his care.
Whenever possible, Mr. Laland made the 600-mile trip to spend time with his daughter while she was in a foster home. Still, despite his demonstrated commitment to her and the fact that he was never accused of any type of improper behavior, he was forced to wait years for the determination that might have given him some custodial rights. Eventually, he settled with the Suffolk County authorities to allow his daughter to remain in her Long Island foster home, but continued the appeal of his lawsuit to help other parents and establish visitation rights for himself.
While New York and other states no longer force biological parents to endure the drawn-out review process mandated under the ICPC, there are other complications that can arise during interstate or international custody matters. Depending on your particular circumstances, you might need an attorney who understands the custody laws in other states or how the Hague Convention applies when parents live in different countries.
Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C. has extensive experience handling interstate and international child custody disputes for Long Island clients. To learn about your legal options, please call 1.631.479.3839 or contact us online.