Advance notice of termination of child’s benefits
In an effort to help families and individuals affected by welfare benefit terminations, New York has enacted regulations which require that recipients of state assistance have a pre-termination hearing before their benefits are terminated. The purpose of this hearing is to afford the recipient a fair opportunity to present his or her case, to confront adverse witnesses and to present evidence in support of his or her position that the benefits should not be terminated.
A pre-termination hearing is a key component of the “procedural due process” requirement, which is based on the principle that the individual interest in welfare benefits is more compelling than that of the government. The statutory procedures adopted by the State Department of Social Services did provide for such a hearing, but were inadequate.
Termination of parental rights can be a very difficult issue, and it can affect a family’s life for years to come. Whether the termination is voluntarily or involuntarily, it must be approved by a court.
Voluntary terminations occur when one or both parents decide they no longer want to retain their rights to a child. This is often the case in step-parent adoption and in cases where a child is born to a teenager, who may feel overwhelmed by her responsibilities to care for an infant.
Involuntary terminations are usually the result of parental unfitness. If a parent is found to be unfit by a social service agency, the State can then file a motion to terminate the parent’s parental rights. Generally, the State must show that continued custody of the parent would be detrimental to the child.