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New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. J.G. and S.B-G

September 18, 2012

NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
J.G. AND S.B-G., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.
IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF I.M.G., A MINOR.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Cumberland County, Docket No. FG-06-29-11.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted September 11, 2012 -

Before Judges Reisner and Harris.

In these consolidated appeals, defendants J.G. (John) and S.B-G. (Susan) seek review of the Family Part's judgment terminating parental rights to their son I.M.G. (Ian).*fn1 Both parents contend that plaintiff New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (the Division)*fn2 did not prove by clear and convincing evidence the requisite statutory factors to establish that Ian's best interests would be served by severance of their parental ties. The Law Guardian supports termination of both parents' rights to Ian.

After considering the record in light of the applicable law, we are satisfied that Judge Harold U. Johnson Jr.'s findings and conclusions are firmly supported by substantial, credible evidence in the record as a whole. See N.J. Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. F.M., ___ N.J. ___ (2012) (slip op. at 34-35). Accordingly, we affirm the judgment against both parents.

I.

Ian was born on May 23, 2009, and immediately removed from his mother's care. On May 28, 2009, the child was placed with a Division resource family where he remained up to and through the disposition of the guardianship trial. At the time of Ian's birth, the Division was already involved with the family, which resulted in the termination of Susan's parental rights to an older child.

On the day following Ian's birth, the Division received a referral noting that Susan suffered from chronic mental health issues, was previously hospitalized for those issues, and that the Division had previously intervened in the removal of her first child. The referral further alleged that during the moments immediately preceding Ian's birth the parents argued over the need for a surgical intervention, leading John to be escorted from the hospital after having a "verbal altercation" with Susan and hospital staff.

On May 28, 2009, a Division caseworker interviewed Susan and John separately and individually. They conceded that they had each been admitted to several mental health facilities and were diagnosed with mental illnesses, but Susan maintained that she did not have any mental health issues. Both parents acknowledged a history of domestic violence and resulting police involvement.

The caseworker also met with Susan's case manager at the Cumberland County Guidance Center, a facility that provides "case management care for individuals who are released from mental health[] facilities." The case manager advised that Susan should be taking medication and in counseling to treat her mental health issues but that she fervently rejected any treatment and services.

On June 1, 2009, the Division was awarded custody, care, and supervision of Ian by the Family Part. Two weeks later, the parents were ordered to comply with evaluation recommendations, which included medication monitoring and counseling. On September 8, 2009, Susan entered into a stipulation that "based upon [her] mental health issues [her] [] family [is] in need of services pursuant to . . . Title 30."

Susan attended a psychiatric evaluation with Dr. Edward Baruch, M.D. on March 10, 2009, approximately two months before Ian was born. She would meet with Dr. Baruch again for an additional evaluation on November 9, 2010. In both evaluations Susan was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. Dr. Baruch recommended medication as a course of treatment for her psychosis. Dr. Baruch noted a "lengthy history of psychiatric illness, domestic violence and psychiatric hospitalizations" but that Susan had not been regularly taking any psychiatric medication. Dr. Baruch added that Susan exhibited "signs of delusions and a thought ...


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