NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, Plaintiff-Respondent,
J.H., Defendant-Appellant IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF T.H., Minor
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 9, 2013
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Somerset County, Docket No. FG-18-0103-09.
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Rasheedah Terry, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Andrea M. Silkowitz, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Erin O'Leary, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney for the minor (Damen J. Thiel, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
Before Judges Yannotti, St. John and Leone.
We review challenges to a Family Part judgment of guardianship terminating the parental rights of defendant J.H. and permitting the Division of Youth and Family Services (the Division) to secure his child's adoption. On appeal, J.H. argues the trial court's decision is unsupported by clear and convincing evidence. We disagree and affirm.
T.H. was born on March 4, 2007. Shortly after her birth, on March 6, 2007, the Division filed a verified compliant for custody of T.H. Her mother, T.C., and father, J.H., were teenagers who had received Division services and carried on a relationship while placed together in a Division foster home. On March 9, 2007, the court granted J.H. supervised visits with T.H. On March 12, 2007, the court ordered T.H. and her mother to be placed in the same foster home. On April 13, 2007, J.H. was granted bi-weekly visits with T.H. to be supervised by the Division.
T.H. and her mother were moved to a residential facility known as Apostle House, and its staff agreed to supervise J.H.'s visits with T.H. However, Donald Czerniach, a Division worker, objected and insisted that Apostle House deny the visits. J.H. went to Division offices and demanded a visit with T.H. The police were called and J.H. left. On April 23, 2007, J.H. went to Apostle House and requested a visit but was advised that he had not been approved for visits.
Following complaints by Apostle House regarding T.H.'s mother, the mother was discharged. Subsequently, on July 10, 2007, T.H. was placed with her maternal great-great aunt, B.H. At the time of the placement, T.H. was four months old. T.H. has since continued to reside with her great-great aunt, and, at the time of trial, T.H. was four and one-half years old.
On January 6, 2008, J.H. was arrested for stealing a car and eluding police. He was detained at Middlesex County jail until he was sentenced and sent to Mountainside Reformatory School. J.H. had monthly visits with T.H. beginning in the spring of 2009, while he was at Mountainside Reformatory School. While at Mountainside, J.H. completed parenting classes, anger management, and vocational training. Also while he was incarcerated, the Division conducted a substance abuse evaluation. J.H. indicated that he had previously been in treatment for marijuana use, and had been in and out of treatment programs at least eight times. J.H. was released on February 25, 2010. Upon release from incarceration, the Division recommended intensive outpatient treatment.
Thereafter, on March 23, 2010, J.H. was again arrested. In April 2010, the Division referred him for substance abuse counseling. However, J.H. failed to comply with services and he was incarcerated again from May 29, 2010 until June 2, 2010, for a parole violation. It was necessary for J.H. to comply with substance abuse treatment before he could be referred for additional services offered by the Division, as those services required him to be drug free as part of his participation. However, J.H. failed to comply with Division services stating that he was too busy.
Upon release, J.H. lived in Philipsburg, while T.H. continued to reside with B.H. in Newark. The Division provided J.H. with train tickets to facilitate visitation with T.H. The Division also offered to assist J.H. with transportation from Philipsburg to Somerset so that he could take advantage of the train.
J.H. was again incarcerated on January 13, 2011, until March 24, 2011. On June 17, 2011, J.H. was arrested yet again. J.H. was also arrested on September 23, 2011. Then on October 12, 2011, he was arrested and incarcerated until March 2, 2012. J.H. was arrested again that same day for failure to pay fines, but was immediately released. In May 2012, J.H. went to family and community services to ...