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New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency v. L.A.M.

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

October 2, 2013

NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
L.A.M., Defendant-Appellant. IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF C.G. AND Z.S.M., Minors.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted September 24, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Essex County, Docket No. FG-07-159-12.

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Michael C. Kazer, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Andrea M. Silkowitz, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel and on the brief).

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney for minors C.G. and Z.S.M. (Damen J. Thiel, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

Before Judges Reisner and Carroll.

PER CURIAM

Defendant L.A.M. appeals from a December 3, 2012 order terminating her parental rights to her children C.G. and Z.S.M. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

I

L.A.M. has a history of serious and seemingly intractable drug addiction. She has given birth to eight children and has not been able to care for any of them. C.G., who was born in April 2009, and Z.S.M., who was born in February 2011, are her sixth and seventh children. C.G. and Z.S.M. (the children) each tested positive for cocaine and opiates at birth, and were placed in foster care within days after their birth. The children have never lived with defendant. She failed to maintain a relationship with them and disappeared several months prior to the guardianship trial.

There are no available relative placements. The children are thriving in the care of foster parents who are committed to adopt them.[1] The Division presented unrebutted expert testimony that C.G. had bonded with his foster parent, Z.S.M. was in the process of forming a secure bond with her foster parent, and both children had a paramount need for permanency.

The Division of Child Protection and Permanency (Division) made repeated efforts to provide defendant with services to address her drug problems, but she was non-compliant. Defendant failed to appear for scheduled bonding and psychological evaluations and did not appear at the guardianship trial. In fact, for at least seven months prior to the trial, she had been completely out of touch with the Division case worker and failed to appear for multiple pre-trial proceedings.

Judge Stephen J. Bernstein issued an oral opinion on December 3, 2012, finding that the Division had satisfied all four prongs of the best ...


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