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New Jersey Div. of Child Prot. & Permanency v. K.T.D.

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

February 20, 2015

NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
K.T.D., Defendant-Appellant. IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF A.K.S., a minor

Submitted November 19, 2014

Approved for Publication February 20, 2015.

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Camden County, Docket No. FG-04-0112-14.

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant ( Durrell Wachtler Ciccia, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent ( Lisa A. Puglisi, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Michelle D. Perry-Thompson, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney for minor ( Phyllis G. Warren, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

Before Judges FUENTES, ASHRAFI and O'CONNOR. The opinion of the court was delivered by O'CONNOR, J.A.D.

Page 686

[439 N.J.Super. 365] OPINION

O'CONNOR, J.A.D.

Defendant K.T.D. (mother) appeals a final judgment entered by the Family Part terminating her parental rights to her daughter, Ann,[1] born in 2012. Ann has been in the custody of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (the Division) since she was six days old. At the time of trial, Ann was in the physical custody of a family friend, Beth, who has had physical custody of Ann since she was six weeks old and wishes to adopt her. The identity of Ann's father is unknown. For the reasons that follow, we remand for further proceedings.

I

On the day Ann was born, the Division received a referral that the mother and baby tested positive for Phencyclidine (PCP). The Division filed a verified complaint for the care, custody, and [439 N.J.Super. 366] supervision of Ann pursuant to N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21, N.J.S.A. 30:4C-12, and Rule 5:21-1, and subsequently obtained legal custody of the baby.

The mother has a long-standing history of abusing PCP. Despite participating in numerous substance abuse treatment programs, she has been unable to overcome her addiction. When Ann was born the mother had two other children, but both had been removed from her care; a relative now has kinship legal guardianship over these children. Four months after Ann's birth, the mother moved to Colorado and has visited Ann only three times since. The mother did not comply with any court ordered services and, throughout the litigation, tested positive for drugs or refused to submit to drug tests, creating the inference she would have tested positive had she submitted a urine sample to the Division.

On July 25, 2013, the Division filed a complaint for guardianship. At a compliance review hearing held on October 21, 2013, the mother informed the court that she was part Native American, specifically, Cherokee, as were both of her parents. She was not, however, an " enrolled" or " registered" ...


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