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New Jersey Division of Youth & Family Services v. J.D.

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

May 14, 2013

NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
J.D., Defendant-Appellant, and C.B, Defendant. IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF A.M.B. and N.B., Minors.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE[1] APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted April 17, 2013

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Passaic County, Docket No. FG-16-10-12.

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Angelo G. Garubo, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Andrea M. Silkowitz, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Kimberly Gunning-Marcantonio, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney for minors (Todd Wilson, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

Before Judges Grall and Accurso.

PER CURIAM

J.D. is the biological mother of A.M.B. and N.B., and she appeals a judgment terminating her parental rights to the children. The judgment also terminates the parental rights of the children's father, C.B., but he has not appealed.

J.D. contends that the Division of Youth and Family Services (Division) failed to establish that its efforts to place her children with relatives were reasonable; the trial court failed to consider alternatives to termination; and that the evidence was inadequate to support the conclusion that termination of her parental rights would not do her children more harm than good. N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1(a)(3)-(4). She does not claim the trial court erred in determining that her children were endangered by her parental relationship with them or in concluding that she is unwilling or unable to eliminate the harm. N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1(a)(1)-(2).

The Division and the children's Law Guardian contend that there was clear and convincing evidence establishing each of the four statutory criteria that are essential to support the conclusion that termination of J.D.'s parental rights is in the best interests of her children. N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1(a)(1)-(4). We agree and affirm for the reasons stated by Judge Portelli as amplified here. The judge's factual findings "are supported by 'adequate, substantial and credible evidence' on the record, " N.J. Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. M.M., 189 N.J. 261, 279 (2007) (quoting In re Guardianship of J.T., 269 N.J.Super. 172, 188 (App. Div. 1993)), and his legal conclusions are wholly consistent with New Jersey Division of Youth & Family Services v. K.L.W., 419 N.J.Super. 568, 577 (App. Div. 2011).

J.D. gave birth to A.M.B. in February 2010. Both A.M.B. and J.D. tested positive for marijuana when the baby was born. Within a day of her birth, A.M.B. had symptoms of withdrawal from methadone attributable to J.D.'s use of prescribed methadone during her pregnancy. A.M.B. was given morphine to address her withdrawal, which required the baby's hospitalization until she was weaned from the morphine.

J.D.'s first visit with a caseworker for the Division was in the hospital, and J.D. admitted to using marijuana and abusing Xanax while taking prescribed methadone during her pregnancy. But J.D. had a plan to address her addictions in place. She advised the caseworker that she had spoken with a counselor at the Paterson Community Counseling Center about enrolling in an inpatient "Mommy and Me" program at Renaissance House in Newark who had made arrangements for her admission.

A.M.B.'s father, C.B., and her maternal and paternal grandmothers were aware and supportive of J.D.'s plan to go to Renaissance House with the baby. Both grandmothers said they were ...


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