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Matter of Shawanda R – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In Matter of Shawanda R. (17 Misc 3d 437, 841 NYS2d 436 [Fam Ct, Kings County 2007]), the subject child resided with the mother, not in foster care, and it was the intention of all parties that the child remain in the mother's care and custody.

The father, with the consent of both the mother and the attorney for the child, filed an application for the court to approve a judicial surrender of his parental rights.

While paternity had been established, the father never formed a parental relationship with his now 16-year-old daughter and had provided a mere $150 in support during the child's lifetime.

After noting that the Family Court is a court of limited jurisdiction and considering the statutory provisions applicable to surrenders, the Shawanda R. court unequivocally held that the Family Court does not have the authority to approve a surrender of parental rights under these circumstances (id. at 439).

The court further rejected the contention that the father's parental rights could be terminated, rather than surrendered, since the child was not in foster care.