1. New York City Children’s Services (This used to be called the Administration for Children’s Services or ACS. ACS used to be called BCW or CWA), or a foster care agency caring for your child, files a petition (pe-TI-shun) in Family Court asking a judge to terminate your rights. A petition is a request. The petition must give a legal reason for the termination. The legal reason is called a ground. (Examples of grounds are listed below.)
2. Then there will be a trial called a fact-finding hearing. During the fact-finding hearing, ACS will try to prove that there are grounds for termination. ACS will also have to show that they have tried to reunite your family. Reunite means have your children come home to you. The process of showing the judge that they have tried to reunite the family is called showing reasonable efforts. (For more information on reasonable efforts, see below.) At the end of the fact-finding hearing, the judge decides whether or not your rights will be terminated.
3. After the fact findinghearing, there is a dispositional (dis-po-ZI-shun-al) hearing. This is when the judge decides where the children should live. If your rights have been terminated, the judge may decide that your children can be adopted by their foster parents or by someone else.