Termination of Parental Rights in Virginia

The case of Santos v. Bedford County Dep’t of Social Services provides an important example of how important it is to stay on top of court proceedings, especially in a custody case.

Background

The Juvenile and Domestic Relations (“JDR”) court took away parental rights from a mother (“Mother”) after determining her unfit. In response, Mother appealed to the circuit court to retain her rights over K.C., her child. The case date was set and when the day came Mother was nowhere to be found. Mother’s lawyer motioned for a continuance, but it was denied and orders were entered approving the Social Services’ goal of adoption for K.C., Mother appealed.

Court’s Opinion

            Mother appealed the circuit court’s decision claiming that the denial of the continuance was improper because the fact that she could not participate in the hearing prejudiced her chances of winning. The circuit court found that Mother had actual knowledge and notice of the hearing because notices were mailed to the guardian ad litem and Mother’s counsel. On top of that, Social Services had tried to serve the notice on Mother, but she had moved and not updated her address. Testimony at trial from a social worker claiming she had informed Mother of the date was also found to be credible. Therefore, the circuit court’s decision was affirmed.

Importance of an Excellent Lawyer

A lawyer’s purpose is more than just making your argument for you, they are also there to help you through the process of litigation. The lawyers at Smith Strong meet with you for during important pre-trial stages and make sure that you are up-to-date on your case. If you are in need of a lawyer for a custody proceeding, or if you have any other family law or estate related needs, or would like to attend one of our free seminars please call Smith Strong today at (804) 325-1245 or (757) 941-4298.

Editorial Assistance By: Michael Gee - Law Clerk

H. Van Smith
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