UPDATE [4:00 p.m. EST]
Arguments in the case over Felipe Montes’s parental rights came to a close today. Judge Michael Duncan told parties in the Alleghany County courthouse in Sparta, NC that he will reach a decision on the widely reported case next week.
His decision will determine the fates of Felipe Montes, who was deported two years ago for driving violations, and of his three children, who are currently in foster care.
The hearing, which ended this afternoon, was dominated by the children’s legal advocate who previously argued that Montes’s three children should be adopted. In court today, the advocate recommended instead that the children remain with their foster families but in a guardianship arrangement rather than through adoption. This would allow Montes some maintain some contact with the boys even if they stay in the United States.
Montes’s attorney pushed back, maintaining that her client’s parental rights should remain fully intact, and that the children should be reunified with him, whether he’s in the United States or Mexico. The decision is now firmly in the Judge’s hands.
“It’s been a lengthy trial, it’s been emotional, it’s been complicated, at times it’s been frustrating,” Judge Duncan said in closing.
Ultimately, “this case is all about three children,” he added. “This case will have long lasting, far reaching effects on these children and I do not take that lightly.”
A final ruling is expected on November 27th.
Testimony in Felipe Montes’s protracted legal case for his parental rights is expected to come to a close today. A final decision in the closely watched case is near.
Montes, a deported father who was allowed to return to the country on a rare humanitarian permit from the government, took the stand yesterday in Alleghany County, North Carolina to ask the judge to reunite the family.
“Why do I fight?” he said yesterday, in response to a question from his attorney, Donna Shumate. “Because I did not abandon my children. I got taken away from them. I got deported.”