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New Jersey Division of Youth & Family Services v. G.M.

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

August 13, 2013

NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
G.M., Defendant-Appellant, and P.M., Defendant. IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF P.G.M., JR., A Minor.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted June 4, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Morris County, Docket No. FG-14-0028-12.

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Robyn A. Veasey, Deputy Public Defender, on the briefs).

Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney for respondent New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (Andrea M. Silkowitz, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel and on the brief).

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney for minor P.G.M., Jr. (Nancy P. Fratz, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, on the brief).

Before Judges Fisher, Alvarez and Waugh. [1]

PER CURIAM

Defendant G.M.[2] appeals the termination of her parental rights to her son P.G.M., Jr. (P.G.), born May 26, 1995.[3] We affirm.

We summarize the record developed by plaintiff New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (the Division) over the course of a two-day trial. G.M. neither appeared nor presented a defense.

Over the years, the Division received numerous complaints involving P.G. and an older sister who is not the subject of this appeal. The referrals included allegations of physical abuse, criminal behavior, and risks posed by G.M.'s mental health problems. All were investigated and found to be unfounded.

On March 11, 2010, a referral was received from a psychologist employed at P.G.'s high school. The psychologist claimed that G.M., although diagnosed as suffering from clinical depression, had stopped taking medication, was prone to unpredictable outbursts, and pulled P.G. out of school approximately three weeks earlier. When G.M. was subsequently questioned about P.G.'s whereabouts, she was unsure whether he was in Florida or upstate New York. P.G. had criminal charges pending at the time. This was the first of multiple contacts between the Division and G.M. during which she was evasive about P.G.'s whereabouts and living conditions. A few days later, on March 17, 2010, G.M. was transported to Saint Clare's Hospital for a psychiatric screening. P.G. was found at the home he shared with his mother.

Shortly after that contact, on March 29, 2010, G.M. called police because she felt threatened by P.G., who was fifteen at the time. She had made numerous such calls in the past, complaining that her children did "not listen." In fact, Saint Clare's Hospital notified the Division later that day that G.M. brought both of her children to their facility demanding that they be psychiatrically evaluated as a result of their "acting out" behavior. G.M.'s sister, C.R., agreed to care for the children as a temporary placement. A few days later, however, P.G. went to stay with his father in upstate New York. When G.M. was eventually released from Saint Clare's Hospital on April 11, 2011, she refused to comply with the discharge recommendations, including participation in an intensive outpatient program.

When P.G. was interviewed on April 29, 2010, he admitted to experimentation with alcohol and marijuana. He also reported that his mother drank beer daily. Thereafter, the Division met with G.M. on more than one occasion, during which time her home was observed to be cluttered and dirty. She expressed concerns regarding her safety with P.G., disclosed an extensive domestic violence history involving her ex-husband, and explained that she would not take prescribed medication because it made her feel uncomfortable. She also refused ...


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