December 12, 2013
NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY, Plaintiff-Respondent,
M.R., Defendant-Appellant. IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF A.I.R., a minor.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted November 13, 2013
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Essex County, Docket No. FG-07-30-13.
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Ruth Harrigan, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
John J. Hoffman, 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 A.I.R. (Sean Lardner, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
Before Judges Fisher, Espinosa and Koblitz.
Defendant M.R. appeals from the termination of her parental rights to her daughter, A.I.R., who was born in October 2011. We affirm, substantially for the reasons set forth by Judge Garry J. Furnari in his oral opinion.
N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1(a) authorizes the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (the Division) to petition for the termination of parental rights in the "best interests of the child" if the following standards are met:
(1) The child's safety, health or development has been or will continue to be endangered by the parental relationship;
(2) The parent is unwilling or unable to eliminate the harm facing the child or is unable or unwilling to provide a safe and stable home for the child and the delay of permanent placement will add to the harm. Such harm may include evidence that separating the child from his resource family parents would cause serious and enduring emotional or psychological harm to the child;
(3) The division has made reasonable efforts to provide services to help the parent correct the circumstances which led to the child's placement outside the home and the court has considered alternatives to termination of parental rights; and
(4) Termination of parental rights will not do more harm than good.
In her appeal, defendant argues that the Division failed to prove each of these prongs by clear and convincing evidence. However, she presented no evidence to refute that presented by the Division.
The trial court carefully considered each of the statutory prongs and cited adequate, substantial evidence in the record to support its conclusion that each of the prongs had been proven by clear and convincing evidence.
A trial court's decision to terminate parental rights is subject to limited appellate review. N.J. Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. G.L., 191 N.J. 596, 605 (2007). If supported by "adequate, substantial, and credible evidence in the record, " the trial court's findings of fact are entitled to deference. Ibid.; see also Cesare v. Cesare, 154 N.J. 394, 413 (1998)("Because of the family courts' special . . . expertise in family matters, appellate courts should accord deference to family court factfinding."). The family court's decision to terminate parental rights will not be disturbed "when there is substantial credible evidence in the record to support the court's findings." N.J. Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. E.P., 196 N.J. 88, 104 (2008).
Because we find that the trial court's findings are supported by adequate, substantial, and credible evidence in the record, we affirm for the reasons set forth in Judge Furnari's oral decision.