July 9, 2007
NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
P.S. AND S.E.W., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS,
IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF A.V.M.W., MINOR.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division-Family Part, Essex County, Docket No. FG-07-80-06.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued: February 7, 2007
Decided: March 7, 2007
Resubmitted after remand: July 2, 2007
Before Judges Cuff and Fuentes.
In our March 7, 2007 opinion, we remanded for reconsideration of the termination of S.E.W.'s parental rights. We did so because "unofficial" contacts between S.E.W. and her child were unknown to the expert witnesses and did not appear to have been considered by the trial judge in his assessment of the statutory factors. N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1a(1) to (4). We, therefore, remanded "for reconsideration of the statutory best interest analysis with specific reference to the quality and quantity of 'unofficial' contact between mother and daughter as it influences the ultimate question of the best interests of this child." N.J. Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. P.S. & S.E.W, A-5754-05T4 (App. Div. March 7, 2007) (slip op. at 22).
The remand hearing occurred on May 2, 2007. The review was confined to the record adduced at trial. Judge John Callahan noted that the foster mother has been a friend of S.E.W. for a considerable period of time; therefore, the fact of contact between mother and child should not be considered unusual. He also noted that, no matter the number of contacts between S.E.W. and her daughter, "the day-to-day, hour-to-hour responsibility for care of [the] child, in this instance by [the foster mother], so far exceed and surpass the necessary standards in terms of influence upon a child that they could not possibly compare with the occasional contact if it in fact has reoccurred or been permitted by [the foster mother] . . . ." The judge also reiterated his prior findings that S.E.W. was not capable of parenting her daughter. In other words, the contacts that occurred between S.E.W. and her daughter neither quantitatively nor qualitatively demonstrated that S.E.W. had or could assume a parental role for her daughter. Therefore, by order dated May 24, 2007, Judge Callahan affirmed his prior findings and his May 31, 2006 order that the parental rights of S.E.W. to A.V.M.W. should be terminated.
We did not retain jurisdiction. Nevertheless, due to the timely completion of the remand proceeding and the timely submission of briefs by the parties, we are able to conclude our appellate review of this matter. We are satisfied that Judge Callahan complied with our mandate.*fn1 We are also satisfied that the record supports the termination of S.E.W.'s parental rights to A.V.M.W. Therefore, we affirm the May 31, 2006 judgment in all respects.