February 18, 2010
NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF W.C.H., MINOR.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Essex County, Docket No. FG-07-96-09.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted February 1, 2010
Before Judges Lisa, Alvarez and Coburn.
Defendant, R.B., appeals from the May 21, 2009 order terminating her parental rights to her son, W.C.H.*fn1 Defendant argues that the Division of Youth and Family Services (Division) failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence all four prongs of the best interests of the child test. See N.J. Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. A.W., 103 N.J. 591, 604-11 (1986); N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1a. The Division argues to the contrary, and is supported in the appeal, as it was in the trial court, by W.C.H.'s law guardian.
W.C.H. was born on January 7, 1994. His parents were arrested and incarcerated soon after his birth. W.C.H. came under the care of G.L. in late summer or early fall 1994, and has lived with her continuously ever since. W.C.H., who is now sixteen years old, wants G.L. to adopt him, and G.L. wants to adopt W.C.H. W.C.H. has had virtually no contact with defendant during his lifetime. He does not really know his mother and is not interested in attempting to establish a relationship with her. He is in a stable and loving home with G.L. Expert testimony credited by the trial judge established that W.C.H. has a strong bond with G.L, she is his psychological parent, and his removal from G.L. would cause substantial harm to W.C.H. On the contrary, that evidence further established that termination of defendant's parental rights would cause no harm to W.C.H.
After a three-day trial, Judge Hayden issued a comprehensive written opinion. She found that the Division proved all four prongs of the best interests test by clear and convincing evidence. Our review of the record convinces us that the judge's factual findings are amply supported by the evidence, and she correctly applied the controlling legal principles, as a result of which we have no occasion to disturb her order terminating defendant's parental rights to W.C.H. N.J. Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. M.M., 189 N.J. 261, 279 (2007). We affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge Hayden in her thorough and well-reasoned written opinion of May 21, 2009.