On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Cumberland County, Docket No. FG-06-13-10.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 13, 2011
Before Judges Reisner, Simonelli and Hayden.
Defendant J.B. appeals from the Family Part judgment of June 30, 2010, terminating his parental rights to his children E.B. and A.B. and awarding guardianship to the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (the Division). After reviewing the record presented on appeal, we affirm.
The record shows that defendant J.B. is the biological father of E.B. and A.B., the two minor children at issue in this case. He is married to D.B., the children's biological mother, who was a defendant in the guardianship proceeding but has not appealed the termination of her parental rights. E.B. was born on September 6, 2007 and his sister A.B. was born on February 15, 2009.
On July 9, 2009, the Division filed a guardianship complaint seeking to terminate the parental rights of J.B. and D.B. to their son, E.B. On January 8, 2010, the Division amended its complaint to include A.B., the couple's daughter. On May 19 and 27, 2010, a trial was held in which the Division's caseworker, E.B.'s resource mother, and a clinical psychologist testified. J.B and his girlfriend C.K. testified on his behalf. On June 10, 2010, Judge Julio Mendez issued a comprehensive fifty-two page written opinion terminating the parental rights of D.B. and defendant to E.B. and A.B.
At the time of trial, D.B. had twelve biological children, all of whom have been removed by the Division and placed with relatives. J.B. is the father of five of those children, although only the youngest two are at issue in this case. He voluntarily surrendered his parental rights to two of his older children and his parental rights to his third child were involuntarily terminated.
D.B.'s first interaction with the Division occurred in 1993, when she threatened to harm her newborn child. From that time on, the Division received numerous referrals regarding the family, including mental health issues, parenting concerns, and hygiene problems. Many of these referrals occurred during the time J.B. also resided in the home. Over the years D.B. has been diagnosed with major depression and borderline personality disorder, and possibly with bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
When E.B. was born on September 6, 2007, the Division decided removal of the child was necessary because of his parents' prior substantiations for abuse and neglect of their other children. On September 11, 2007, the Division filed a complaint for custody of E.B., which was granted. On October 29, 2007, the court decided to return E.B. to J.B.'s care under very stringent conditions, which J.B. agreed to follow. The judge ordered J.B. to have weekly contact with the Division, to obtain stable housing and to not allow D.B. to have contact with the child.
During the next several months, J.B. frequently did not follow the judge's mandate of maintaining weekly contact with the Division. Defendant moved frequently during this period and failed to establish stable housing or obtain employment. Defendant told the Division that he was employed but, when they sought to verify that information, it proved false. Caseworkers making unannounced visits found D.B. together with J.B. and the child but they adamantly denied living together.
From May 12 to June 3, 2008, the Division was unable to contact defendant or visit with E.B. On June 5, 2008, the Division filed for, and was granted, custody of E.B. due to J.B.'s continued non-compliance with court orders.
Subsequently D.B. revealed to the Division that she had been living with defendant during much of the time that he had custody of E.B. D.B. became pregnant with A.B. during this time. J.B. also admitted to allowing D.B. ...