Submitted November 28, 2017
appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division,
Family Part, Mercer County, Docket No. FD-11-0394-17.
Natalia Teper, attorney for appellant.
Respondent has not filed a brief.
Judges Reisner, Hoffman and Gilson.
O.Y.C.P. v. J.C.P., 442 N.J.Super. 635 (App. Div.
2015), we addressed the Family Part's jurisdiction over
persons between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one who apply
to the Family Part for predicate findings in special
immigrant juvenile (SIJ) cases. In this case, we consider the
Family Part's jurisdiction to grant an application for
child custody, made in connection with an SlJ-related
application. In the factual circumstances presented here, we
hold that, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 9:17B-3, the Family Part has
jurisdiction to grant a parent custody of an unemancipated
child who is over eighteen, but under twenty-one, and to
issue a declaratory ruling that the child is dependent on the
parent and is not emancipated.
context, we briefly review the pertinent immigration
legislation as it relates to this case. Plaintiff A.E.C.
(Ana)filed a complaint in the Family Part as a
predicate to obtaining SIJ status for her son J.S.E.,
pursuant to the Immigration Act of 1990, as amended by the
William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection
Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA), Pub. L. No. 110-457, 122
Stat. 5044 (2008). The SIJ application is a two-step process,
requiring participation by the state courts and the United
States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
H.S.P. v. J.K., 223 N.J. 196, 209-11 (2015).
the child, or an individual acting on the child's behalf,
must "petition for an order from a state juvenile court
making findings that the juvenile satisfies certain
criteria." Id. at 210 (citation omitted).
Pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a) (27) (J) and 8 C.F.R.
§ 204.11(c), the Family Part must make findings on the
(1) The juvenile is under the age of 21 and is unmarried;
(2) The juvenile is dependent on the court or has been placed
under the custody of an agency or an individual appointed by
(3) The "juvenile court" has jurisdiction under
state law to make judicial determinations about the custody
and care of juveniles;
(4) That reunification with one or both of the juvenile's
parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment
or a similar basis under State law; and
(5) It is not in the "best interest" of the
juvenile to be returned to his parents' previous country
of nationality or country of last habitual residence within
the meaning of 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(27)(J)(ii); 8 C.F.R.
§ 204.11(a), (d)(2)(iii) [amended by TVPRA 2008].
[H.S.P., 223 N.J. at 210 (quoting In re Dany
G., 117 A.3d 650, 655-56 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2015)).]
the state family court makes the necessary preliminary
findings, the "juvenile can submit his or her
application for SIJ status to USCIS in the form of an I-360
petition. If USCIS approves the ...