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State of New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. I.B.

March 23, 2009

STATE OF NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
I.B. DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF V.B., MINOR-RESPONDENT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Ocean County, Docket No. FG-15-18-08.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted February 23, 2009

Before Judges Carchman and Simonelli.

The Division of Youth and Family Services (Division) brought this action, seeking the termination of the parental rights of defendant I.B., the biological mother, and J.A., the biological father, to their daughter, V.B., born January 27, 2006. J.A. executed a voluntary identified surrender of his parental rights on December 20, 2007. He does not appeal. Following a non-jury trial, Judge Strelecki rendered an oral decision and entered judgment in favor of the Division terminating defendant's parental rights to V.B. On appeal, defendant raises the following contentions:

POINT I THE JUDGMENT OF GUARDIANSHIP TERMINATING THE DEFENDANT'S PARENTAL RIGHTS SHOULD BE REVERSED BECAUSE THE DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO A PROPERLY CONDUCTED ADJUDICATIVE HEARING WAS VIOLATED (NOT RAISED BELOW).

(A) TESTIMONY ELICITED FROM THE DIVISION'S WITNESSES CONCERNING THE DEFENDANT'S PURPORTED MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS WAS INCOMPETENT AND INADMISSIBLE (NOT RAISED BELOW).

(B) THE TRIAL RECORD DOES NOT REFLECT WHEN THE DIVISION'S PREMARKED EVIDENCE PACKAGE WAS ADMITTED INTO EVIDENCE.

POINT II THE JUDGMENT OF GUARDIANSHIP TERMINATING THE DEFENDANT'S PARENTAL RIGHTS SHOULD BE REVERSED BECAUSE THE TRIAL COURT APPLIED AN IMPROPER "BETTER INTERESTS" ANALYSIS THAT WAS CONTRARY TO THE STATUTORY CRITERIA OF THE "BEST INTERESTS" TEST.

(A) THE DEFENDANT DID NOT "HARM" V.B. UNDER THE STATUTORY CRITERIA OF THE BEST INTERESTS TEST.

(B) THE DEFENDANT WAS NOT PARENTALLY "UNFIT" UNDER THE STATUTORY CRITERIA OF THE BEST INTERESTS TEST.

(C) THE DIVISION DID NOT MAKE "REASONABLE EFFORTS" TO CONSIDER ALTERNATIVES TO TERMINATION UNDER THE STATUTORY CRITERIA OF THE BEST INTERESTS TEST.

(D) TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS WILL DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD UNDER THE STATUTORY CRITERIA OF ...


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