The City of Roanoke’s Social Services Department sought to terminate a father’s parental rights following allegations of abuse. Before trial, the father had subpoenaed four witnesses none of whom appeared in court.

     During the trial, the social services department presented evidence against the father of abusive behavior and neglect which included testimony from the children's therapist. Another motive in terminating the father’s parental rights was due to him failing to progress given the services the department offered him while his children were in foster care for 25 months.

The Father Moved to Strike, Was Denied, and Later Renewed His Continuance Request.

The father renewed his request because he felt that the children had been in foster care for an extended period of time and that the case ought to move forward. The Department objected and the circuit court denied the father’s motion.

However, the circuit court allowed father to proffer any testimony that the court would’ve received had his witnesses been present. Father’s witnesses consisted of a coworker and his children’s former foster parents, all of whom he claimed would have testified to his good character. 

The Father Testified That The Evidence Presented Against Him Was Unfounded.

As previously directed by the department, father participated in a substance abuse assessment. The center concluded that he did not have ‘a problem’ with alcohol. He also participated in alcohol and drug screens, all of which came back negative.

The Circuit Court Finds That Father Was Not a Credible Witness and That His Testimony Was ‘Contrary to the Facts’

     The circuit court entered an order that officially terminated the father's parental rights. They also approved the social services recommendation to move the children’s foster care status from ‘return home’ to ‘adoption’ which the father appeals.

When Witnesses Fail to Appear in Court, a Continuance May Not be Granted if the Judge Does Not Deem it to be in the Best Interest of the Children.

In 2023, a Virginia circuit court terminated a father’s parental rights after hearing his proffer of testimonies from multiple subpoenaed witnesses who had not attended trial. The court then denied the fathers motion for a continuance.

     For legal assistance with your child custody case matter, please consult with one of our Virginia attorneys at Smith Strong, PLC by calling 804.325.1245 or messaging us on this site.


Opinion: INAM v. ROANOKE CITY DEP’T OF SOCIAL SERVICES , record No. 1379-22-3, Nov. 8, 2023.

Special thanks to Dayani R. Robinson for editorial assistance in drafting this article. Dayani is a student at the University of Virginia, majoring in Political Science; and worked at Smith Strong, PLC from 2023 - 2024.

H. Van Smith
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