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Elyass v. Fairfax County Department of Family Servicesatia Elyass

Court of Appeals of Virginia

November 26, 2013

ATIA ELYASS
v.
FAIRFAX COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY SERVICES ATIA ELYASS
v.
FAIRFAX COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY SERVICES

FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF FAIRFAX COUNTY R. Terrence Ney, Judge.

Michael S. Arif (Arif & Associates, P.C., on brief), for appellant.

May S. Kheder, Assistant County Attorney; Kathleen Rust Bell, Guardian ad litem for the minor child (David P. Bobzien, County Attorney; Peter D. Andreoli, Jr., Deputy County Attorney, on brief), for appellee.

Judges Frank, Petty and Senior Judge Haley Argued at Alexandria, Virginia

MEMORANDUM OPINION [*]

JAMES W. HALEY, JR., JUDGE.

Atia Elyass (father) appeals an order terminating his parental rights to his child, A.E. Father argues that the trial court erred in terminating his parental rights because the Department of Family Services (the Department) failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence, that (1) father was, without good cause, unwilling or unable within a reasonable period of time, to remedy substantially the conditions which led to or required continuation of the placement of the child in foster care; (2) pursuant to Code § 16.1-283(C)(1), father had failed to maintain contact with the child or plan for the future of the child; (3) the termination of parental rights was in the best interests of the child; and (4)[1] the Department had provided father with sufficient and appropriate visitation with the child after the child was placed in foster care.[2] We find no error and affirm the decision of the trial court.

BACKGROUND

We view the evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party below and grant to it all reasonable inferences fairly deducible therefrom. See Logan v. Fairfax Cnty. Dep't of Human Dev., 13 Va.App. 123, 128, 409 S.E.2d 460, 462 (1991).

A.E. is the child of father and Sania Mikhail (mother). A.E. was born in 2004. The Department initially became involved with the family in 2008 because of several reports alleging lack of supervision of A.E.

In March 2009, mother attempted suicide after fighting with father. Mother was hospitalized, and a safety plan was established with father as the primary caretaker for A.E. The family sought reunification services from the Department, which the Department attempted to facilitate. In May 2009, there was another incident regarding lack of supervision. Another safety plan was put into place with father having primary responsibility for A.E.; however, father was unable to follow through and left daily tasks, such as bathing, clothing, and feeding A.E., to mother.

In early October 2010, mother called the Department and told the social worker that she was frustrated and could not care for the child. The Department also received reports that the child had been exposed to domestic violence and mother's mental instability. The home-based worker reported that there was no effective change in the household, despite the services, and the family was in a "continued state of crisis." On October 8, 2010, the Department removed the child from the parents' custody after it learned that the child, who was six years old at the time, left the home while mother and father were arguing. The child walked across a busy street to a grocery store parking lot at night. The Department filed a petition alleging that the child was abused and neglected.

Mother has bi-polar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. When the Department removed A.E. from the home, mother had not been compliant with her medication and mental health treatment.

On November 12, 2010, the Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court (the JDR court) entered an order finding that the child was an abused and/or neglected child. The JDR court approved the foster care plan with the goal of A.E. returning home.

Father was ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation and a parent-child assessment and to follow ...


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