On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Bergen County, Docket No. FN-02-90-10.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted: November 10, 2011
Before Judges Axelrad and Sapp-Peterson.
A.H. appeals from the Family Part's March 17, 2010 order, following a fact-finding hearing, determining she abused and neglected her infant son R.W. by refusing to provide medical care and sustenance for him, relinquishing responsibility of him, and continuing to abuse drugs. We affirm.
On August 24, 2009, the Division of Youth and Family Service (DYFS) filed an Order to Show Cause for Investigation under N.J.S.A. 30:4C-12, and a Verified Complaint for Investigation, of A.H., the mother, and R.D., the presumed biological father, regarding medical concerns pertaining to their one-month-old son R.W. Judge Bonnie J. Mizdol granted the order orally at a hearing, at which only R.D. was present. Immediately after the hearing, R.D. was arrested on outstanding warrants for motor vehicle violations and R.W. was placed in DYFS' custody pursuant to an emergency Dodd removal.
DYFS promptly filed an Amended Order to Show Cause and a Verified Complaint for Custody and to Appoint a Law Guardian with Temporary Custody, both under N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21 and N.J.S.A. 30:4C-11.2, seeking temporary custody of R.W. and alleging A.H. and R.D. abused and neglected R.W. Following a hearing, Judge Mizdol granted DYFS legal and physical custody of R.W on August 27, 2009.
A subsequent DNA test established R.D. was not R.W.'s biological father. Accordingly, R.D. was removed from the case. Following a hearing on October 29, 2009, Judge Mizdol entered an order that R.W. was to remain in DYFS' custody and A.H. was to submit to both substance abuse and psychological evaluations.
An abuse and neglect fact-finding hearing was held on March 16 and 17, 2010, before Judge John A. Conte. A.H. was represented by counsel but did not attend. At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Conte orally found DYFS proved by a preponderance of the evidence that A.H. had abused or neglected R.W. The ruling was memorialized in an order of March 17, 2010.
On October 26, 2010, DYFS filed a guardianship complaint (FG-02-65-11) seeking to terminate A.H.'s parental rights over R.W. and seeking to dismiss the "abuse and neglect" proceedings. By order of October 26, Judge Mizdol granted the request and directed R.W. to remain in the custody of DYFS.
On December 9, 2010, A.H. filed a notice of appeal of both Judge Conte's finding of abuse and neglect of March 17, and Judge Mizdol's dismissal of the FN litigation of October 26.
In a Judgment of Guardianship on May 9, 2011, Judge Conte terminated A.H.'s parental rights to R.W., and A.H. made an ...