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Rivera v. Marcus – Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)

In Rivera v. Marcus, 696 F.2d 1016 (2d Cir. 1982), the Second Circuit considered Mrs. Rivera's claim that her due process rights were violated when the state removed her half-brother and sister from her custodial care as a foster parent.

Ruling for Mrs. Rivera, the court recognized that, although foster parents usually do not have the right to due process protection, Mrs. Rivera's status as the half-sister of the minor children, along with her history of caring for them as a surrogate mother for several years, accorded her "an important liberty interest in preserving the integrity and stability of her family. . . . Custodial relatives like Mrs. Rivera are entitled to due process protections when the state decides to remove a dependent relative from the family environment." Id. at 1024-25.

The Second Circuit also recognized "important interests that the children maintain in preserving the integrity and stability of their extended family. The . . . children surely possess a liberty interest in maintaining, free from arbitrary state interference, the family environment that they have known since birth." Id. at 1026.