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New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. A.M. and K.M

January 11, 2011

NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
A.M. AND K.M., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS,
IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF M.M., MINOR



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Hudson County, Docket No. FG-09-178-07.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted November 30, 2010 - Decided Before Judges Yannotti and Espinosa.

This case presents the consolidated appeals of A.M. and K.M. from an order that terminated their parental rights to M.M., the third of their seven children. We affirm the order terminating defendants' parental rights substantially for the reasons stated by Judge Davis in her oral decision of November 24, 2009.

A.M. presents the following issues for our consideration:

POINT I

THERE WAS INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO PROVE BY CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE THAT THE STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS OF N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15 AND 30:4C-15.1 WERE MET, AS WILL BE DETAILED IN THE ARGUMENTS BELOW POINT I(A)

THERE WAS INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO PROVE BY CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE THAT M.M.'S SAFETY, HEALTH OR DEVELOPMENT HAS BEEN OR WILL CONTINUE TO BE ENDANGERED BY THE PARENTAL RELATIONSHIP UNDER THE FIRST PRONG, WHERE DEFENDANT WAS NOT AT HOME WHEN THE ACCIDENT THAT CAUSED THE CHILD'S INJURIES OCCURRED, HE WAS IN NO WAY DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR HER BURNS, AND THE PRIMARY CARETAKER, THE MOTHER, AND NOT THE DEFENDANT, FAILED TO PROPERLY SUPERVISE THE CHILD POINT I(B)

THERE WAS INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE UNDER THE SECOND PRONG TO PROVE BY CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE THAT A.M. WAS UNWILLING OR UNABLE TO ELIMINATE THE HARM FACING M.M., OR IS UNABLE OR UNWILLING TO PROVIDE A SAFE AND STABLE HOME FOR HER, AND THE DELAY OF PERMANENT PLACEMENT WILL ADD TO THE HARM, WHERE THE DEFENDANT PREVIOUSLY HAD A VERY GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CHILD, THE DEFENDANT SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED THE PROGRAMS AFFORDED TO HIM, AND HE DEMONSTRATED A CLEAR ABILITY AND INTENT ON PROTECTING THE CHILD FROM FURTHER HARM POINT I(C)

D.Y.F.S. FAILED TO PROVE BY CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE THAT IT MADE REASONABLE EFFORTS TO HELP A.M. CORRECT THE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT LED TO THE CHILD'S PLACEMENT WITH FOSTER PARENTS, BUT ON THE CONTRARY CONDUCTED THEMSELVES IN A MANNER THAT INFRINGED UPON DEFENDANT'S VISITATION AND CREATED AN ATMOSPHERE THAT WAS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE AND FOSTERED FEAR ON THE PART OF THE CHILD POINT I(D)

THERE WAS INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO PROVE BY CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE THAT TERMINATION OF A.M.'S PARENTAL RIGHTS WILL NOT DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD, UNDER THE FOURTH PRONG, WHERE D.Y.F.S.'S ACTIONS ARE WHAT LED TO THE DETERIORATION OF WHAT WAS PREVIOUSLY AN EXCELLENT PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP K.M. presents the following issues for our consideration:

POINT I

THE TRIAL COURT'S TERMINATION OF THE MOTHER'S PARENTAL RIGHTS WAS AGAINST THE WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE AND TESTIMONY

A. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT DYFS HAD DEMONSTRATED, BY CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE, THAT DYFS MADE REASONABLE EFFORTS TO PROVIDE SERVICES TO THE MOTHER TO CORRECT THE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT LED TO MYA'S PLACEMENT OUTSIDE OF THE HOME After carefully reviewing the record and arguments of counsel, we conclude that these arguments lack merit.

A trial court decision to terminate parental rights is subject to limited appellate review, N.J. Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. G.L., 191 N.J. 596, 605 (2007), and will not be disturbed "when there is substantial credible evidence in the record to support the court's findings." N.J. Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. E.P., 196 N.J. 88, 104 (2008). See also Cesare v. Cesare, 154 N.J. 394, 413 (1998)("Because of the family courts' ...


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