On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Union County, Docket No. FG-20-29-07.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted December 16, 2009
Before Judges Axelrad, Fisher and Sapp-Peterson.
In this appeal, defendant L.L. (the mother) argues that the proofs were insufficient to support the judgment terminating her parental rights to her daughter, A.L.L., the child in question in this action. We find no merit in the mother's arguments and affirm substantially for the reasons set forth in the oral decision of Judge Frederic S. Kessler. We add only the following comments.
Judge Kessler reached his decision following a three-day trial. At trial, the Division of Youth and Family Services presented the testimony of three caseworkers and a psychologist. The mother did not testify on her own behalf nor did her attorney call any witnesses.*fn1 In reaching his decision, Judge Kessler applied N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1a, which mandates that, in order to obtain a termination of parental rights, the Division must prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that:
(1) The child's safety, health or development has been or will continue to be endangered by the parental relationship;
(2) The parent is unwilling or unable to eliminate the harm facing the child or is unable or unwilling to provide a safe and stable home for the child and the delay of permanent placement will add to the harm...;
(3) The division has made reasonable efforts to provide services to help the parent correct the circumstances which led to the child's placement outside the home and the court has considered alternatives to termination of parental rights; and
(4) Termination of parental rights will not do more harm than good.
See also N.J. Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. A.W., 103 N.J. 591, 604-11 (1986).
In appealing, the mother does not dispute that the first prong was met. That the mother did in fact endanger the health, safety and development of the child was stipulated and is beyond doubt. And, although the mother contends that the evidence was inadequate to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the other prongs were met, we conclude otherwise.
The record reveals that the mother was born drug-exposed and that she had a difficult childhood due to her mother's drug addiction and inability to care for her. In her youth, the mother apparently moved from the home of one relative to another. In 1999, when nine years old, the mother was granted SSI childhood disability benefits on the grounds that she suffered from mental retardation and speech/language ...