Lewis, Kolovsky and Halpern. The opinion of the court was delivered by Kolovsky, J.A.D.
[116 NJSuper Page 507] Plaintiff, a welfare recipient represented by an attorney designated by the Legal Aid Society of Mercer County, filed a complaint for the adoption of Gwendolyn, a 13-year-old child who had been in her custody for some 12 I/2 years.*fn1 Because she was so represented, the
clerk of the court waived payment of any filing fees. See R. 1:13-2.
Plaintiff has obtained the judicial relief she applied for; a judgment granting the adoption was entered on September 22, 1970.
Plaintiff's dissatisfaction -- hence this appeal -- is with that part of the judgment as allows, as taxed costs to be paid by plaintiff, the sum of $240 to the Bureau of Children's Services of the New Jersey Department of Institutions and Agencies (Bureau). That sum, whose reasonableness is not disputed, represents the costs incurred by the Bureau in acting, pursuant to prior orders of the court (1) as the "approved agency" which made the investigation and report called for by N.J.S.A. 9:3-23, and (2) as the "next friend" which made the visits, investigations and report provided for by N.J.S.A. 9:3-25 and 26.
N.J.S.A. 9:3-23 requires, except in circumstances not present here, that upon the filing of a complaint for adoption,
The italicized phrase, "approved agency," is defined by the statute, N.J.S.A. 9:3-18:
The phrase "approved agency" means a legally constituted agency having its principal office within or without this State, which has been approved, pursuant to the provisions of this act, to place children in New Jersey for purposes of adoption.
The statute further provides in N.J.S.A. 9:3-25 that if, upon completion of a preliminary hearing, the court is satisfied, among other things,
Under N.J.S.A. 9:3-26, a next friend so appointed must,
A. * * * from time to time * * * visit the home of the plaintiff and * * * make such further inquiry as may be necessary to observe and determine the care being received by the child and the adjustment of the child and the plaintiff as members of a family.
B. At least fifteen days prior to the final hearing, * * * file with the court a written report of its findings since the preliminary hearing, including a recommendation as to the adoption. * * *
Further, a next friend so appointed is
Finally, N.J.S.A. 9:3-32 provides for reimbursement of the "approved agency" for the costs incurred by it in acting pursuant to orders of the court:
The costs of all proceedings pursuant to this act shall be borne by the plaintiff, including the costs incurred by an approved agency acting pursuant to an order or orders of the court. Unless otherwise paid or provided for, the costs of an approved agency shall be presented to and allowed by the court upon the entry of judgment. Whenever such costs are paid or allowed to an approved public agency, the moneys resulting therefrom shall be appropriated to the
use of such approved public agency in the ...