January 11, 2008
NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF J.L.M., MINOR.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Camden County, FG-04-72-06.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted December 17, 2007
Before Judges Lintner, Sabatino and Alvarez.
Defendant, O.M., appeals from a judgment terminating his parental rights to his child, J.L.M., who was born on March 26, 2001. At the time of trial, the child's mother, A.D., failed to appear. A default was accordingly entered by the court, and her parental rights thereby terminated. She has not appealed that determination.
Judge Robert W. Page issued a comprehensive, detailed and thorough opinion from the bench on June 28, and June 29, 2006, terminating O.M.'s parental rights. Review of a trial court's termination of parental rights is limited. N.J. Div. of Youth and Family Servs., 189 N.J. 261, 278 (2007). Factual findings should be upheld so long as they are supported by "'adequate, substantial and credible evidence'" developed at trial, as was the case here. Id. at 279 (quoting In re Guardianship of J.T., 269 N.J. Super. 172, 188 (App. Div. 1993)). Deference must be granted to the trial court's credibility determinations. Ibid. Judge Page's opinion contains findings of fact that are fully supported by the substantial credible evidence in the record. N.J. Div. of Youth and Family Servs. v. G.L. 191 N.J. 596, 605 (2007) (citing In re Guardianship of J.N.H., 269 N.J. Super. 172, 188 (App. Div. 1993)); Cesare v. Cesare, 154 N.J. 394, 413 (1998); Rova Farms Resort, Inc. v. Investors Ins. Co., 65 N.J. 474, 484 (1974). Judge Page correctly applied the legal standard found at N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1a.
On appeal, O.M. contends that the state did not present clear and convincing evidence such as would satisfy the statutory test and that overall, it did not demonstrate that J.L.M. has been harmed or will continue to be harmed by a continuation of the parental relationship. After a careful review of the record, and in light of the applicable law, we conclude that O.M.'s contentions are clearly without merit. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(A),(E). We affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge Page in his oral opinion.
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