Can I get my ACS records in a Manhattan Custody case?

Do I have a right to see the ACS Records in my New York Custody case?

You  may very well have a right to see the ACS records if you have been a target of an ACS investigation brought on by a spouse in a child custody case.  But there are strict procedures you must go through to get the records.  Federal law requires the state’s child protective agencies to maintain records of the investigation and you can usually access these records if you were the subject of an ACS investigation.  But these records are not readily available without following formalities set forth in the law.  Requesting Child Protective Records Child protective records are not available pursuant to the Freedom of Information Law. A request for your child protective records must be written, notarized request and should include your full name and date of birth.  You can also request the records by fax to the Records and Compliance Unit at (212) 341-0726 OR

If you’re seeking someone else’s records or if your records involve the records of other parties in a New York custody case that is also different as you will probably need to obtain a court order.  And if you require the records to be certified then you will also need to get a court order before the records are released. Due to the nature of the confidentiality of these records  you must have been the target of the investigation and usually the case is already closed before you can ask for the records.

Another way to secure the records is to subpoena them.  It is well-settled under New York law that if an agency’s case record meets the requirements of a business record, it may be entered into evidence. The law is clear that your attorney may do this if relevant to your case. See:  Matter of James M.B., 155 A.D.3d 1027, 1030, (2017) in which the Appellate Division Second Department held that “The mother’s contention that the Family Court erred in admitting the agency’s case record into evidence as a business record is without merit. A proper foundation for the admission of the case record was laid by the testimony of the agency administrative supervisor, who was familiar with the agency’s record-keeping practices (cf. Cadlerock Joint Venture, L.P. v. Trombley, 150 A.D.3d 957, 959). Each participant in the chain producing the record was acting within the course of regular business conduct (see Matter of Leon RR, 48 N.Y.2d 117, 122). The court providently exercised its discretion in limiting the records admissible to those entries made contemporaneously with the events reported or within a reasonable time thereafter (see CPLR 4518[a]; cf. Matter of Dustin H., 40 A.D.3d 995, 996).  Also see In re R., 264 A.D.2d 423, 423–24, (1999), in which the same Court held, “we find no merit to the appellant’s contention that the Family Court committed reversible error by admitting the entire case file of the child protective agency into evidence. The agency established a proper foundation for admission of the file into evidence as a business record by establishing that it consisted of entries made by case workers who were under a business duty to timely record all matters relating to the welfare of the subject children (see, CPLR 4518 [a]; Matter of Dept. of Social Servs. v. Waleska M., 195 A.D.2d 507, 510; cf., Matter of Leon RR., 48 N.Y.2d 117, 123). Furthermore, as required by principles of “fundamental fairness”, the appellant’s counsel was afforded an opportunity to review the case file prior to its admission into evidence (see, Matter of Rosemary D., 78 A.D.2d 889; Matter of Melanie Ruth JJ., 76 A.D.2d 1008, 1009).Here, the production of the requested documents via subpoena duces tecum would be a mechanism to allow you to review the files prior to their expected admission into evidence, as set forth above.

By: Lisa Beth Older, Esq.  

Your Manhattan Custody Lawyer

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