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New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. A.H

November 19, 2012

NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
A.H., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT. IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF J.M.H. AND A.C., MINORS.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Hudson County, Docket No. FG-09-178-10.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted September 19, 2012

Before Judges Lihotz and Kennedy.

Defendant A.H. appeals from the Family Part's judgment terminating her parental rights to her sons J.M.H. (fictitiously referred to as Josh) and A.C. (fictitiously referred to as Alfred).*fn1 Defendant raises the following points on appeal:

POINT I

THE COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE DIVISION SATISFIED THE FIRST PRONG OF THE BEST INTERESTS TEST; THERE WAS NEVER A FINDING THAT DEFENDANT-APPELLANT HARMED THE INFANT, A.C.

POINT II THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY TERMINATING THE MOTHER'S PARENTAL RIGHTS BECAUSE ALTERNATIVES TO TERMINATION AND ADOPTION, INCLUDING PLACEMENT WITH RELATIVES, WERE NOT PROPERLY CONSIDERED.

POINT III THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY TERMINATING THE MOTHER'S PARENTAL RIGHTS BECAUSE A FINDING THAT THE FOURTH PRONG OF THE BEST INTERESTS TEST HAS BEEN MET DOES NOT BY ITSELF MEAN THAT THAT PARENTAL RIGHTS SHOULD BE TERMINATED.

After considering the arguments presented in light of the record and the applicable law, we are satisfied that the trial judge's findings are firmly supported by substantial, credible evidence in the record as a whole and fully supported his legal conclusions. See, e.g., N.J. Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. A.R.G., 361 N.J. Super. 46, 78 (App. Div. 2003), aff'd in part, modified in part and remanded, 179 N.J. 264 (2004), certif. denied, 186 N.J. 603 (2006). Consequently, we affirm the judgment of the Family Part.

I.

We derive the following facts from the trial record. Defendant was born on April 15, 1991, and was placed in foster care at age ten. She was returned to her mother's custody in 2006, dropped out of high school in 2007 and gave birth to Josh in October 2007. Prior to Josh's birth, defendant had been referred to the Adolescent Servicing Center for pregnancy guidance and parenting skills training, but the agency closed its file by May 2008 due to defendant's persistent failure to participate in services.

On April 9, 2008, the Division of Youth and Family Services, now known as the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (the Division),*fn2 obtained an order for the care and supervision of Josh on the basis of a complaint alleging that the sixteen-year-old defendant failed to attend school or provide for the proper care of Josh. On May 12, 2008, the Family Part held a hearing in which it ...


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