In a Dependency, Neglect, or Abuse proceeding, Family Court entered an order finding that Father sexually abused Child. Father moved the court to order visitation with the child and after a final hearing, the Family Court entered an order granting the Father’s motion to re-establish visitation. In its findings, the Family Court specifically stated that the Court did not find that Sexual abuse occurred, despite its prior findings in the Dependency, Neglect, or Abuse proceeding. Additionally, the Family Court did not address the expert witness testimony regarding the harm Child would endure if visitation was granted to a parent who sexually abused nor did the Family Court give deference to the expert’s reunification plan.
The Court of Appeals held that the Family Court’s disregard of its prior finding of sexual abuse was clear error and that the Family Court abused its discretion when it ignored the expert opinions. The Court of Appeals vacated and remanded the decision of the Family Court.
Digested by Emily T. Cecconi