• The information provided on this web blog is public information and is not individualized legal advice. Do not take any legal action on any information contained in this blog!!! Always consulting with an attorney in your state about your legal issues. The presentation of information on this blog does not establish any form of attorney-client relationship with my firm or with me. While I have attempted to maintain the information on this blog as accurately as possible, this information may contain errors or omissions, for which I disclaim any liability. Case law from other jurisdictions discussed here are discussed for comparative purposes only. The author is licensed to practice only in the Commonwealth of Virginia and not in any other state. Despite the foregoing, this material could be considered to be ADVERTISING MATERIAL. The responsible party for this blog is Robert R. Hagy, II Esq., an attorney licensed to practice law in Virginia, of the Law Offices of Rob Hagy, P.C., whose address is 154 Hansen Rd., Suite 202-B, Charlottesville, Virginia 22911.

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    Richmond City Circuit Court Dismissal of Termination of Parental Rights Case is Reversed in favor of Richmond DSS!

    In this termination of parental rights case re the City of Richmond Department of Social Services v. J. Wells and D. Roane (biological parents), the Circuit Court dismissed the termination petition against Ms. Wells and Mr. Roane due to the DSS not providing clear and convincing proof that the biological parents or the caretakers had actually harmed the young child. Despite rib fractures, unusual inside back of the throat injuries and wrist injuries all at under 3 months old, the father canceling follow-up hospital appointments, convincing testimonies from therapists and professionals concerned with the behavioral patterns of the parents and the lack of completion of most DSS suggested services - even after one year - the Circuit Court ruled that the child was better off with the biological parents. 

    On appeal from the Richmond Department of Social Services the Court of Appeals reviews excerpts from the Circuit Court hearing and includes as part of their decision:   

    "At the end of the case, the court ruled that the Department failed to carry its burden under either Code § 16.1-283(B) or (C)(2). The court determined that the Department failed to prove that mother and father were the individuals responsible for causing J.R.’s injuries, which the court considered to be a prerequisite for termination. The court cited due process concerns and stated, “In this [c]ourt, it matters who did it and when.” It found that the Department was required to present “more substantial evidence implicating each one of the persons.” The court also ruled that the Department did not prove that termination was in J.R.’s best interests. The court referred to J.R. calling mother “mom,” found that there was evidence J.R. and his biological family had a “connection,” and pointed out that the grandmothers had raised “about ten [other] children” without claims of abuse. The court further found that the child’s injuries did - 10 - not amount to a “death-like situation” and commented that “you’ve got a bruise and you’ve got fractures. And fractures are easy to occur. There are people walking down the street and get fractures or trip up and get fractures. So there’s no explanation of that fracture process.” The court also noted that father took J.R. to the skeletal survey and queried, “[W]ould somebody beat up a kid and then take him to the hospital?” Five months later, on September 20, 2021, the court entered the final order denying the Department’s petition to terminate mother and father’s parental rights and remanding the case to the JDR court.

    Continuing its review of the Circuit Court's hearing and dismissal of the termination, the Court of Appeals boldly disagrees on every issue with the City of Richmond Circuit Court in reaching its decision and ultimately stated: 

     Based on the record before us and applicable law, we are compelled to hold that the court’s decision to dismiss the termination petition was plainly wrong and without evidence to support it because the Department’s evidence established the elements of Code § 16.1-283(B) by clear and convincing evidence. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the circuit court, terminate mother and father’s parental rights under Code § 16.1-283(B), approve the Department’s foster care goal of adoption, and remand the matter to the circuit court for any other further proceedings as necessary. See Code § 16.1-283(F).

    Local courts do not always get it right. This one did not, and the Appeal prevailed providing help and hope for this child. The Rule of Law stands as your best advocate and an Appeal is a legitimate option! 


    If need assistance with your divorce, or if you have questions about appeals or attorneys fees, please feel free to call us at (434)293-4562 or email us at rob@robhagylaw.com. Or, you can visit us online at www.charlovilttesledivorceattorney.com.- Rob Hagy 

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    Important Laws Affecting Family Law Matters

    • Virginia Code Section 20-107.3
      This provision of Virginia law governs the manner and rules for dividing martial property upon divorce.
    • Virginia Code Section 20-108.2
      This provision of Virginia law sets forth the child support guidelines-a table of reference for determining the base monthly child support obligation.
    • Virginia Code Section 20-124.3
      This statute sets forth the factors that a court will consider in divorce proceedings, temporary proceedings, or modification proceedings to determine what custody and visitation arrangement would be best for the child or children involved.

    Child Support Calculator