On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Essex County, Docket No. FN-07-149-06.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Fuentes and Graves.
T.C. is the biological mother of a daughter, K.C., born on July 29, 1999, a daughter, E.M., born on October 17, 1997, and stepdaughter, B.C., born on January 19, 2000. She appeals from three Family Part orders as they pertain to K.C.: (1) an order entered on August 15, 2006, that transferred legal custody of K.C. to G.C., K.C.'s natural father; (2) an order entered on November 16, 2006, that allowed K.C. to remain in the legal and physical custody of G.C.; and (3) a second order dated November 16, 2006, that terminated the litigation.
On appeal, T.C. presents the following arguments:
POINT I K.C. MUST BE RETURNED HOME TO HER MOTHER T.C., OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, THIS CASE MUST BE REMANDED FOR A PROPER PERMANENCY HEARING ACCORDING TO STATUTE.
A. AT THE AUGUST 15, 2006 HEARING, JUDGE RYAN SHOULD HAVE ORDERED THE RETURN OF K.C. HOME.
B. JUDGE RYAN FAILED TO PROPERLY HOLD A PERMANENCY HEARING ON AUGUST 15, 2006.
C. ASSUMING JUDGE RYAN HELD A PERMANENCY HEARING AS REQUIRED BY N.J.S.A. 30:4C-61.2, HE APPLIED THE WRONG STANDARD.
POINT II JUDGE HAYDEN IMPROPERLY DISMISSED THE LITIGATION.
Because of procedural infirmities, we reverse and remand the matter to the Family Part.
In New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. J.Y., we noted a judicial determination in abuse and neglect cases "has a profound impact on the lives of families embroiled in this type of a crisis." 352 N.J. Super. 245, 264-65 (App. Div. 2002). Consequently, a trial court's determination "must be based on competent reliable evidence, N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.46; R. 5:12-4(d)," and the court's "factual findings must be supported by evidence admitted during the hearing, which shall be held on the record." Id. at 265. "Testimonial evidence must be presented through witnesses who are under oath, N.J.R.E. 603, and subject to cross-examination. N.J.R.E. 611. In ...