December 11, 2013
NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY, Plaintiff-Respondent,
M.P., Defendant-Appellant. IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF H.K., a minor.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted November 18, 2013
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Warren County, Docket No. FG-21-101-12.
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Marc D. Pereira, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
John J. Hoffma The record also contains evidence of numerous human rights n, Acting 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 minor H.K. (Karen A. Lodeserto, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
Before Judges Parrillo, Kennedy and Guadagno.
Defendant, M.P., the biological mother of H.K., born in 2008, appeals from a March 8, 2013 judgment of guardianship, which terminated her parental rights to the child. Defendant contends that the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (the Division) failed to prove each prong of N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1a by clear and convincing evidence. After reviewing the evidence presented to the trial court, and in light of prevailing legal standards and the arguments presented, we affirm.
We will not recite in detail the history of the Division's involvement with defendant. Instead, we incorporate by reference the factual findings and legal conclusions contained in Judge Kimarie Rahill's comprehensive twenty-nine page written decision. We add the following brief comments.
We are satisfied that, commencing with the Division's involvement with defendant in November 2008, and continuing up to and including the commencement of trial approximately four years later, defendant was unable to overcome the deficiencies that rendered her unable to safely parent the child. Defendant has a history of mental health issues, emotional instability and behavioral problems, which resulted in the issuance of an order granting primary physical custody of H.K. to the biological father with the paternal grandparents serving as primary caretakers while the biological father was working. Shortly thereafter, the paternal grandparents were granted physical custody of H.K. and the Division made a referral for the child for early intervention services due to developmental delays. Later, unable to cope with H.K.'s developmental issues, the paternal grandparents relinquished their legal and custodial rights to the child, and she was eventually placed with her current foster parents in May 2010. The foster parents have expressed a continued commitment to care for H.K. and a willingness to adopt her.
Even after hospitalization for her mental health issues, defendant showed a lack of insight into her profound psychological problems, and has a history of noncompliance with, and repeated attempts to minimize, her treatment. The credible expert evidence demonstrates defendant has no prospect to develop adequate parenting capacity, and that H.K. would be at risk in her care. Further, such evidence demonstrates that H.K. has a strong bond with her foster parents and would not suffer harm if defendant's parental rights were terminated.
Judge Rahill carefully reviewed the evidence presented, and thereafter concluded that the Division had met by clear and convincing evidence all of the legal requirements for a judgment of guardianship. Her opinion tracks the statutory requirements of N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1a, accords with In re Guardianship of K.H.O., 161 N.J. 337 (1999), In re Guardianship of D.M.H., 161 N.J. 365 (1999), and
New Jersey Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. A.W. , 103 N.J. 591 (1986), and is supported by substantial and credible evidence in the record.
New Jersey Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. F.M ., 211 N.J. 420, 448-49 (2012). We therefore affirm substantially for the reasons that the judge expressed in her comprehensive and well-reasoned opinion.