December 21, 2010
NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
T.C.R., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT, AND D.J.N., DEFENDANT.
IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF J.J.N-H.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Essex County, FG-07-195-09.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued December 8, 2010
Before Judges Gilroy, Ashrafi and Nugent.
Defendant T.C.R., the biological mother of J.J.N-H., born October 2008, appeals from the March 1, 2010 Family Part order that entered a judgment of guardianship and terminated her parental rights to her son. The order also terminated the parental rights of D.J.N., J.J.N-H.'s biological father, but he has not appealed. We affirm.
J.J.N-H. is T.C.R.'s sixteenth child, and the third child born of T.C.R. and D.J.N.'s relationship. In 1999, T.C.R. surrendered her parental rights to five children. In May 2001, after a six-day trial, the court terminated her parental rights to four other children. We affirmed. In December 2004, after a four-day trial, the court terminated T.C.R.'s parental rights to three other children. We affirmed. In January 2006, following a one-day trial, the court terminated her parental rights to her thirteenth child. We affirmed. Lastly, in September 2008, after a four-day trial, the court terminated T.C.R.'s parental rights to her fourteenth and fifteenth children. Again, we affirmed.
J.J.N-H. was born with no physical problems. Two days after his birth, based on T.C.R.'s history of nineteen pregnancies and sixteen children, the hospital notified the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services ("DYFS" or "the Division") of the child's birth. On October 23, 2008, DYFS filed a verified complaint and order to show cause seeking custody and supervision of J.J.N-H. The trial court granted the application based on presentation of an extensive history of abuse and neglect by T.C.R. of her other children, her prior involuntary terminations of parental rights, and her history of mental health and domestic violence issues.
On November 14, 2008, the trial court granted DYFS's application to relieve it of its obligation to provide reasonable efforts to reunify J.J.N-H. with T.C.R., based upon the termination of parental rights of three of her other children. On March 9, 2009, the court approved DYFS' permanency plan for termination of parental rights followed by adoption.
On May 8, 2009, DYFS filed its complaint for guardianship. After T.C.R. failed to appear for a pretrial conference, the court entered default against her. On December 7, 2009, the matter proceeded to trial. Although T.C.R. was aware of the trial date, she failed to appear. DYFS presented testimony of a psychologist and a caseworker. On February 18, 2010, the trial court issued a written decision determining that DYFS proved by clear and convincing evidence all of the elements of the best interests of the child standard required by N.J.S.A. 30:4C- 15.1(a). The judge entered a conforming order on March l, 2010.
On appeal, T.C.R. argues the following:
I. TERMINATION OF T.C.R.'S PARENTAL RIGHTS TO J.J.N-H. SHOULD BE REVERSED BECAUSE DYFS FAILED TO PROVE THE N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1A BEST INTEREST TEST BY CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE
A. DYFS DID NOT PROVE PRONG ONE OF THE N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1A BEST INTEREST TEST, BECAUSE IT DID NOT PROVE BY CLEAR AND CONVINCING COMPETENT EVIDENCE THAT T.C.R. HARMED J.J.N-H.
B. DYFS DID NOT PROVE PRONG TWO OF THE N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1A BEST INTEREST TEST, BECAUSE IT DID NOT PROVE BY CLEAR AND CONVINCING COMPETENT EVIDENCE THAT T.C.R. IS UNABLE OR UNWILLING TO BE A FIT PARENT.
C. DYFS SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN RELIEVED OF ITS RESPONSIBILITIES UNDER PRONG THREE OF THE N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1A BECAUSE REASONABLE EFFORTS WERE LIKELY TO RESULT IN REUNIFICATION.
D. PRONG FOUR IS A FAILSAFE, NOT AN INDEPENDENT REASON FOR TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS.
We conclude that the trial court's ruling was based on findings of fact adequately supported in the record, and that the arguments made by T.C.R. are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a full written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)
(A) and (E). We affirm the judgment terminating T.C.R.'s parental rights to J.J.N-H. for the reasons stated in the thorough memorandum of decision issued by the trial court.
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