NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, Plaintiff-Respondent,
A.M.G., Defendant-Appellant. IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF D.M.G. and S.C.G., Minors.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted June 5, 2013
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Morris County, Docket No. FG-14-35-12.
Brause, Brause & Ventrice, L.L.C., attorneys for appellant (Peter Ventrice, on the briefs).
Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Andrea M. Silkowitz, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; T. David Wand, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney for minor respondents, D.M.G., and S.C.G. (Christopher A. Huling, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
Before Judges Simonelli and Accurso.
A.M.G. appeals from a June 4, 2012 final judgment terminating his parental rights to his children Dan and Sally.He contends that the Division of Youth and Family Services (the Division or DYFS) failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence the four prongs of N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1 and thus the court erred in terminating his parental rights. We disagree and affirm.
The Division's first encounter with this family was on October 24, 2006, when Dan was only five days old. A.M.G. had come home at 5:00 a.m. under the influence of crack cocaine and alcohol and began cursing his partner P.C. and throwing toys and a swing procured for their new baby. A.M.G. was arrested after he choked and kicked police officers who responded to the home.
A.M.G. admitted to a DYFS caseworker that he was under the influence of crack cocaine and alcohol at the time and the Division substantiated neglect as to both parents. The parents agreed to a safety protection plan providing that Dan would not be left alone with A.M.G.
That incident was followed by several more referrals to DYFS in the ensuing years reporting domestic violence and substance abuse in this family. In November 2006, DYFS received a referral from the police that A.M.G. had come home intoxicated and physically abused P.C. while Dan was in the house. The Division again substantiated neglect as to A.M.G., the caseworker noting it was the second incidence of domestic violence in the first month of Dan's life. In March 2007, the police again responded to a domestic disturbance between A.M.G. and P.C., this time in a car in which Dan was a passenger. In August 2007, P.C. called the police after A.M.G. allegedly struck P.C. in the face in the midst of an argument. Dan was not present. P.C.'s mother, N.K., reported to DYFS that A.M.G. nearly broke P.C.'s jaw on that occasion. In February 2008, DYFS was again contacted by the police regarding another domestic disturbance. The police reported that both P.C. and A.M.G. had been drinking when P.C. left their home and got into the family's pick-up truck. A.M.G. followed and threw a glass candlestick at P.C., shattering the truck's window and hitting P.C. in the nose. A.M.G. fled and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Two weeks after the incident in the pick-up truck, DYFS filed a complaint for care and supervision of Dan. A.M.G. completed drug treatment and an anger management program, following which the case was dismissed. Domestic violence continued, however. While the case was pending, police responded to the family's home in July 2008 after A.M.G. and a woman companion allegedly beat P.C. and wrested Dan from her arms. Dan was almost two years old at the time and had to be transported to the hospital for evaluation after he appeared to be favoring one of his arms.
In February 2009, P.C. called the police after a verbal altercation with A.M.G. In April 2009, Sally was born. In August 2009, P.C. reported to the police that A.M.G. had thrown her to the ground during an argument, and he was arrested. A.M.G. began substance abuse treatment in February 2010. In April 2010, a man delivering pizza to the couple's home called the police after A.M.G. allegedly kicked P.C. in the ribs while she was feeding Sally. Sally was in a high chair and Dan was also present. The physical confrontation between the two ended when A.M.G. head-butted P.C. causing her nose to bleed. The Division filed a ...