NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES,  Plaintiff-Respondent,
T.H., Defendant-Appellant. IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF J.H., Minor.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted May 22, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Essex County, Docket No. FG-07-106-11.
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Anna F. Patras, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Andrea M. Silkowitz, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Kelly Levy, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney for minor (Caitlin A. McLaughlin, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
Before Judges Grall and Simonelli.
Defendant T.H., the biological mother of J.H. (Jay),  born in February 2010, appeals from the June 26, 2012 Family Part judgment of guardianship, which terminated her parental rights to the child. The judgment also terminated the parental rights of Jay's biological father, K.J., who has not appealed. On appeal, defendant contends that plaintiff New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (Division) failed to prove each prong of N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1a by clear and convincing evidence, and the trial judge incorrectly relied on certain evidence. We affirm.
Defendant is a paranoid schizophrenic who was also diagnosed with psychotic and affective disorders, depression and substance abuse. She became involved with the Division in December 2007, shortly before the birth of her first child, Nancy,  after the Division received a referral that she was pregnant, had no pre-natal care, and was very violent and exhibiting bizarre behavior. After Nancy's birth in January 2008, a hospital social worker advised the Division about defendant's psychiatric condition and that defendant would not disclose if she was receiving psychiatric treatment. The Division also discovered that defendant had tested positive for marijuana and opiates when Nancy was born. The hospital discharged defendant with instructions to obtain mental health treatment, and defendant's treating physician recommended that she receive psychiatric treatment and management of her prescribed psychotropic medications. Defendant did not comply.
The Division removed Nancy from defendant's care and placed her in foster care. Thereafter, the Division referred defendant several times for a substance abuse evaluation, but she failed to attend.
Defendant suffered a psychotic episode in May 2008, and was hospitalized for eight days. The hospital discharged defendant with instructions to obtain mental health treatment and medication, and her treating psychiatrist recommended psychotherapy, group therapy, and psychotropic medication. Defendant did not comply. In addition, although defendant was offered art therapy, stress management, life and coping skills, psychotherapy, anger management and relapse prevention, she did not participate in any of these services.
On April 17, 2009, Alexander Iofin, M.D., a psychiatrist, evaluated defendant and found she had paranoid ideation and significant psychotic features with thought blocking and thought derailment. The doctor noted that defendant had no insight into the severity of her psychiatric condition and her non-compliance with treatment and medication made it "difficult if not impossible to properly assess her." Dr. Iofin opined that defendant required lifelong mental health treatment and injectable psychotropic medications. He recommended that the Division suspend supervised visits with Nancy until defendant became fully compliant with treatment and medications. Visitation was never reinstated because defendant remained non-compliant.
In June 2009, the Division referred defendant for psychiatric treatment at Irvington Counseling Center. Defendant failed to comply with the Center's recommendations.
In December 2009, the Division received a referral that defendant, then six months pregnant with Jay, was brought to a hospital crisis unit by emergency medical services. The hospital admitted defendant because she believed the baby was causing a fire in her stomach and she wanted medication to stop the baby from moving. An assessment revealed that defendant was non-compliant with mental health ...