This is an action to terminate the parental relationship pursuant to N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15 and 30:4C-20 between the natural parents, D.T. and J.T., and their two children, J.A.T. age 4, a girl, and J.T.T., age 3, a boy.
An unusual aspect of these proceedings was four applications to intervene. The maternal grandparents as a couple and the paternal grandparents as a couple sought to intervene. Each set
of grandparents desired custody of the children if the paternal relationship were to be terminated. Two sets of foster parents with whom the children are now residing -- the boy in one home and the girl in another -- each sought to intervene, not to seek custody, but to present testimony.
The pertinent facts as found by the court are these:
D.T., the mother of the children who are the subject of this controversy, was born October 22, 1953. She quit high school at age 16 and married J.M. She had three children from this marriage: S.M., born January 3, 1971, Sh.M. born April 11, 1972 and L.M. born September 8, 1973. She separated from her husband, and in 1974 or 1975 they were divorced.
On March 1, 1975 D.T. married J.T., the father of the children involved herein. J.A.T. was born June 14, 1975 and J.T.T. was born April 20, 1976.
On June 5, 1975 the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) filed a complaint against D.T. and J.T. under the provisions of N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21 et seq. , alleging child abuse and neglect. It should be noted that this was three months after D.T. and J.T. were married and nine days before D.T. gave birth to J.A.T. The M. children were removed from the household but two were returned under supervision of DYFS by court order dated June 20, 1975. The third child, Sh.M., the victim of extensive burns, remained in temporary custody of DYFS. D.T. and J.T. were required to undergo psychiatric examinations and counseling.
Eventually Sh.M. was returned to D.T. and J.T. and the child abuse complaint as it pertained to the first two children was dismissed; it was continued as to Sh.M. -- he was to be under supervision of DYFS, by court order of September 15, 1975.
A second complaint alleging child abuse and neglect was filed by DYFS against D.T. and J.T. on August 24, 1976.
This complaint alleged abuse against all five children in the household, including J.T.T., then four months old, and J.A.T., then 14 months of age. Sh.M., age four years, four months, died
on August 22, 1976 as a result of the injuries sustained from the abuse.
All the children were removed from D.T. and J.T. and were placed in foster homes on August 24, 1976. J.A.T. and J.T.T. were placed in separate homes.
L.M. and S.M. were returned to their natural father and they reside with his parents in Florida.
D.T. and J.T. were indicted and tried for the murder of Sh.M. J.T. was found guilty of murder in the second degree and on September 15, 1977 sentenced to an indeterminate term not ...