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Doe v. G.D.

Decided: December 16, 1976.

JOHN DOE AND MARY DOE, HIS WIFE, AN ALIAS, PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
G.D. DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Bischoff, Morgan and E. Gaulkin. The opinion of the court was delivered by Bischoff, J.A.D.

Bischoff

G.D., the natural mother of N.D. an infant, and N.D. appeal from an order entered in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court directing that "physical custody of the infant N.D. be and is hereby continued with the foster parents, known as John and Mary Doe, plaintiffs in this matter under the supervision of the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services." The order was entered at the termination of proceedings instituted under N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.8 et seq.

N.D. was born out of wedlock to G.D. on December 8, 1972. G., then 17 years of age, did not have facilities to house or care for N., who was given to the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (hereinafter Division or DYFS) which Division, in turn, placed her in a foster home.

DYFS assigned plaintiffs as foster parents in September 1973 and N. remained in their custody until December 1974 with N. visiting G. through arrangements made with the Division. In December 1974, on one such visitation, G. retained possession of N., who remained with G. until August 1, 1975, when her custody was terminated by court order.

The present controversy commenced with the filing of a verified complaint on July 22, 1975, entitled "John Doe and his wife, Mary, an alias, plaintiffs v. G.D." The complaint, filed pursuant to N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.34(d),*fn1 charged G. with neglect of N. and asked that he court appoint DYFS guardian of N. "until a full hearing" could be held and, further,

that plaintiffs be awarded physical possession of the child.

Based on the testimony of a caseworker of DYFS and affidavits accompanying the verified complaint, an order to show cause and an order of protection (N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.55) were entered which placed N. in the care, custody and guardianship of DYFS and "in the temporary custody of plaintiffs." The order further directed defendant G. to show cause on July 31, 1975 "for the purpose of a factfinding hearing pursuant to N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.44."

A law guardian for N. was appointed pursuant to N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21(d)*fn2 and N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.23,*fn3 and counsel was provided for G.D. On July 31, 1975 hearings were commenced and continued on August 1st.

On August 1, DYFS filed a verified complaint in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court seeking a judgment placing N.D. in the guardianship of the Division pursuant to N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15(c)*fn4 and N.J.S.A. 30:4C-20.*fn5

At the conclusion of the hearing on August 1 an order was entered placing N. in the custody of the Division pending a plenary fact-finding hearing which was scheduled for September 11.

An appeal was taken from this order by the law guardian for N. (Docket A-118-75).*fn6 Fact-finding hearings were held on several dates following September 11, and terminating November 14, with the court delivering an oral opinion on November 17. The oral opinion was followed by the entry of an order on December 1, 1975. The oral opinion and the order included the specific finding that:

[T]he infant N.D. is and has been an abused and neglected child within the definition of N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21 ยง 4, and this court having further found that said abuse and neglect is and has been the result of acts and omissions by the parent G.D.R. and it appearing that good cause exists, and the best interests of the infant N.D. require the entry of the within Order.

The order provided that: (1) physical custody of N. was continued in the foster parents (plaintiffs) under the supervision of DYFS; and (2) G.D. was ...


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