Matter of Bridget PP. v. Richard QQ.
Justice Thomas Mercure
Mother appealed from an order that dismissed her application to modify a prior custody order. Father previously obtained custody of the children and he subsequently alleged the parties' son was a person in need of supervision (PINS) as he apparently had mental health issues. As a result, the son was placed in the custody to the St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services. Mother sought modification of her prior consent to custody order to have custody of the children awarded to her. The Family Court refused to issue an order to show cause and dismissed the petition. The panel concluded the family court erred in summarily dismissing the petition, noting that along with the son's PINS proceeding, mother's petition alleged father was physically and verbally abusive to the children, engaged in drug use in their presence, and denied her parenting time with the daughter. The panel thus ruled, given the circumstances, and the sparse record before it, the summary dismissal was inappropriate before any appearance or response to the petition was entered. Thus, it reversed the order and remitted the matter to the family court for further action.