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February 03, 2022

New Jersey



In re N.B., 2015 WL 4078555 (N.J.).Juvenile offender, who pleaded guilty to sexual contact with child under age 13 to whom he was related, committed sole sex offense within scope of household/incest exception to requirement that he be included in internet sex offender registry. Juvenile committed offense against younger half-sister when they lived in same household, posed moderate risk of re-offense, and otherwise met requirements of exception.



N.J. Div. of Child Prot. & Perm. v. Y.A., 101 A.3d 23 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2014). Statute providing that child’s previous statements relating to abuse or neglect allegations are insufficient to make abuse or neglect finding if such statements are uncorroborated does not apply if child testified to the abuse at a fact-finding hearing. Child’s testimony was subjected to rigors of cross-examination and her presence at fact-finding hearing permitted judge to assess demeanor and credibility.


Division of Youth & Family Servs. v. N.D., 89 A.3d 609 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2014). Lower court improperly ruled in favor of the agency, which failed to use expert testimony to show mother’s history of cocaine use had any long-term harm to mother’s infant. Although infant was born  cocaine positive, had low birth weight, and had difficulty sustaining body temperature, agency did not provide expert testimony to conclude the infant’s birth defects were caused by mother’s cocaine use. Agency also did not present evidence that mother would continue to use cocaine and place infant in imminent, substantial harm in the future.



In re Adoption of J.E.V., 2016 WL 3981240 (N.J.). An indigent parent in a contested private adoption proceeding has a due process right to appointed counsel.  Termination of parental rights carries the same risks and consequences no matter if it is initiated by the state or a private party. The right to appointed counsel is triggered when a parent formally objects to the decision to proceed with an adoption. FULL SUMMARY






In re N.H., 2016 WL 4210958 (N.J.). Juvenile was charged with offenses that if committed by an adult would amount to murder and unlawful possession of weapon. After prosecution moved to transfer jurisdiction to adult criminal court, and prior to waiver hearing, juvenile filed motion seeking full and complete discovery of prosecution’s entire file. As matter of first impression, prosecution is required to disclose all discovery in its possession prior to waiver hearing.



In re A.C., 43 A.3d 454 (N.J. Super. Ch. Div. 2012). Due process does not require a right to a jury trial in a delinquency case because the possible dispositions include some conditions that could be seen as punitive. In juvenile’s case, the sex offense registration requirement was not punitive but was consistent with the state code which seeks to rehabilitate the youth and protect the community.



In re C.R.E., 57 A.3d 572 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2013). In case where child came into care due to mother’s actions, father could not be found to have neglected child for failing to provide for child’s basic needs when he never had custody. Further, his refusal to engage in services until after adjudication did not constitute neglect by failing to ensure child’s health or well-being.


N.J. Div. of Child Prot. & Perm. v.. K.N.S., 2015 WL 4366805 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div.). Mother appealed finding of abuse or neglect of her seven-month-old boy, who was severely injured by her boyfriend. Mother neglected infant by placing him in care of boyfriend, who was untrustworthy and impatient man about whom she knew little, and by delaying emergency medical aid the child needed. Mother’s knowledge of boyfriend’s disposition and actual prior injury to child made it grossly negligent for mother to leave child alone with him.


N.J. Div. of Child Prot. & Perm. v. K.F., 2015 WL 10008878 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div.). In dependency proceeding against parents, trial court improperly shifted burden of persuasion to father to prove he did not cause injury to 25-day-old child in fall from bed. Mother always claimed she placed child on bed and left him there, and parents never wavered in their assertions that father was in another room when child cried out.



New Jersey Div. of Youth & Fam. Servs. v. P.W.R., 11 A.3d 844 (N.J. 2011). Stepmother’s occasional slaps of 16-year-old teen’s face as discipline measure did not constitute “excessive corporal punishment” within meaning of statutory definition of abused or neglected child; use of “excessive” in statutory definition recognized need for some parental autonomy in child rearing that may involve need for punishment.


Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. T.S., 42 A.3d 942 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2012). Where parents made arrangements for others to care for children while they were incarcerated, but father’s fiancée later left child with grandmother with abuse history, trial court erred in making dispositional order after finding parents had not abused or neglected children. The court should have held a hearing on a motion or petition to compel cooperation after dismissing the case at the adjudicatory stage.



In re Ricky S., 139 A.D.3d 959 (N.Y. App. Div. 2016). Educational neglect of school-aged child may support finding of derivative neglect of sibling younger than school age. However, truancy of one teenaged child, who resisted going to school, and which resulted in finding father educationally neglected child, did not establish derivative neglect of sibling who was not even of school age.


N.J. Div. of Youth & Fam. Servs. v. N.M., 105 A.3d 647 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2014). Evidence was insufficient to establish that mother abused or neglected her children by exposing them to substantial risk of harm when she took them to park where she met with former boyfriend, who later followed mother home and raped her in front of them. There was no history of violence between mother and former boyfriend and no evidence that the children suffered any emotional harm as a result.



In re K.L.W., 24 A.3d 290 (N.J. 2011). Where mother left four-year-old child home alone for two hours under mistaken belief that the grandmother was home when she saw the grandmother’s car parked in the driveway, agency erred in administrative proceeding when it found action constituted neglect; though mother’s action was negligent, it was not grossly negligent or reckless as required to indicate neglect under the statute and list in child abuse registry.


Dep’t of Children & Families v. S.H., 2010 WL 4025617 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div.). Finding by administrative law judge supporting substantiated child abuse determination by division was inappropriate where father struck confrontational teenaged son resulting in minor injury due to unforeseen effect of eyeglass lens coming loose; there was no evidence that it was anything but a one-time incident that did not warrant governmental intervention.


In re N.R., 17 A.3d 850 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2011). Father’s action in leaving 10 month old on bed with no railings near a radiator constituted gross negligence for the purpose of dependency jurisdiction; reasonable person would know it was likely that a child of that age might fall off the bed and receive burns from the radiator.


In re S.N.W., 52 A.3d 200 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2012). In case where the agency was called after parents got in a heated verbal argument, remand was required because record did not clearly show that mother was reckless or grossly negligent as required for a neglect finding. Though mother took more Xanax than prescribed, it was unclear whether it was intentional or accidental, or whether she was unable to safely care for children. Thus evidence did not show she was more than merely negligent.



N.J. Div. of Child Prot. & Perm. v. N.T., 2016 WL 3041528 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div.). Trial court’s finding of abuse or neglect as to child’s stepfather was supported by evidence and warranted remand for new hearing rather than judgement for stepfather after initial adjudication was reversed due to erroneous admission of hearsay evidence. Remand was warranted because other evidence such as report prepared by child welfare agency describing interviews with child and mother about history of stepfather’s physical abuse of mother in presence of child might support finding of substantial risk of harm to child.

In re S.B., 91 A.3d 655 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2014). Lower court properly admitted caseworker’s testimony regarding minor’s statement describing mother’s intoxicated state and finding minors were subject to abuse and neglect. Minor’s statements regarding mother’s slurred speech, swaying back and forth, and weaving while driving were admissible, regardless of whether they were corroborated, but could not alone lead to a finding of abuse and neglect. Here, minor’s statements were corroborated by police observations as well as father testifying that he saw mother drink several alcoholic drinks before driving.


In re I.W., 87 A.3d 279 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2014). Where mother attempted but failed to find employment, or secure housing through friends, family, or public assistance programs, her children could not be adjudicated neglected because neglect findings cannot be based solely on poverty. FULL SUMMARY


N.J. Div. of Child Prot. & Perm. v. E.D.-O., 2015 WL 4997086 (N.J.). Mother left sleeping 19-month-old child unattended in car for 10 minutes while she shopped in nearby store. In determining whether parent’s conduct constitutes child abuse or neglect based on failure to provide adequate supervision, risk of harm inquiry is not limited to whether parent or caretaker’s conduct poses current risk of imminent harm but rather may include conduct at time of incident giving rise to charge of abuse or neglect.



Div. of Child Prot. & Permanency v. G.R., 89 A.3d 217 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2014). Lower court should not have held summary disposition of neglect case for the agency when the agency took five years to resolve the child abuse allegations against mother. There were material facts at issue regarding how long mother left her two-year-old son unattended in her minivan and whether she could adequately supervise him while she was shopping inside a store. Mother asserted cultural differences, as it was not unusual to leave a child unattended in a vehicle for a short time in her German culture. Beyond this incident, there was no other time that the mother was inattentive.


N.J. Div. of Child Prot. & Perm. v. N.C.M., 104 A.3d 1078 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2014). Trial court was not required to consider whether child welfare agency’s alleged failure to provide reasonable efforts to prevent placement and achieve reunification with mother’s three children was a direct result of an earlier failure to provide adequate services to her when she was a minor and under agency’s supervision. 


N.J. Div. of Child Prot. & Perm. v. S.W., 2017 WL 85563 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div.). Father’s attorney’s failure to ensure father received fact-finding hearing in dependency case constituted ineffective assistance of counsel. Father did not agree to truncated procedure for dependency determination based solely on judge’s review of child welfare agency reports. Father did not waive his right to fact-finding hearing, and there was no indication father’s attorney advised him he had right to hearing or discussed implications of waiver of hearing.




N.J. Div. of Child Prot. & Perm. v. I.B., 2015 WL 10211832 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div.). Five-year-old child stated to mother that father sexually abused her. Psychological opinion evidence offered by expert was admissible as substantive evidence to corroborate child’s allegation of sexual abuse. Father’s contention that inconsistencies existed in witnesses’ reports of child’s statements did not establish good cause for granting his pretrial discovery requests to depose child and other witnesses.



In re J.E., 74 A.3d 1013 (N.J. Super. Ct. Ch. Div. 2013). Children were dependent despite being in safe home with their mother who filed dependency petition as a prerequisite to obtaining Special Immigrant Juvenile Status to prevent her undocumented sons from having to return to Honduras. Jurisdiction was needed to protect children despite lack of need for physical removal. Without court supervision, the boys were in danger of being deported where they faced threats from enemies that killed their father, a drug trafficker. Mother’s legal status in the U.S. was also due to expire. 


Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. V.T., 32 A.3d 578 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2011). Court erred in finding father’s use of marijuana and cocaine constituted a substantial risk of harm to his child in dependency adjudication where his uncontradicted testimony indicated he used drugs several days before the visit, was not intoxicated in his child’s presence, and nothing caseworkers described about his behavior during the visit showed any risk of harm.

Div. of Youth and Family Servs. v. Y.N., 66 A.3d 237 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2013). Trial court correctly found child dependent where mother ingested methadone during pregnancy. While mother’s methadone use may have been legal, the actual harm suffered by the child during the weeks of withdrawal in intensive care supported finding and abuse or neglect need not be intentional under statute. 

N.J. Div. of Child Prot. & Perm. v. B.O., 104 A.3d 1088 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2014). Evidence supported finding that child was abused or neglected when mother, while under the influence of drugs, injured seven-week-old infant while co-sleeping. Father knowingly allowed sleeping arrangement even though he knew mother was under influence of drugs, and a witness testified that he saw mother roll over child.

N.J. Div. of Child Prot. & Perm. v. K.M., 2015 WL 10354548 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div.). In neglect proceeding against mother, trial court correctly found mother’s conduct was grossly negligent. Child was born with signs of physical distress caused by withdrawal from opioid addiction. Mother willfully withheld timely disclosure of information about medication she took during her pregnancy, and timely disclosure could have prevented three days of child’s suffering from withdrawal symptoms.


N.J. Div. of Child Prot. & Perm. v. R.W., 105 A.3d 1123 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2014). Mother’s single admission to smoking marijuana while caring for child was insufficient to establish neglect or abuse, even considering mother’s status as parolee. Evidence did not establish that baby was solely in her mother’s care when she was intoxicated or that no one was available to attend to child’s needs. The magnitude, duration, or impact of mother’s intoxication also could not be determined.



In re T.L., 59 A.3d 576 (N.J. 2013). Where child was found at birth to have been exposed to cocaine, but there was no medical evidence of distress or impairment, and no evidence that mother was a substance abuser, trial court was incorrect in taking dependency jurisdiction. Dependency requires harm, imminent danger, or serious risk of harm. FULL SUMMARY



In re V.B., 29 A.3d 1116 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2011). Trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying foster parents’ motion to intervene when they objected to the removal of a child from their home for placement in a relative’s home. The intervenors were not psychological parents because the agency had engaged them to provide temporary care for the children and had not ceded parental responsibility or legal custody.



Div. of Child Protection & Permanency, 82 A.3d 330 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2014). Agency’s finding that mother was grossly negligent in leaving child in running vehicle while she went into a store for 5-10 minutes was proper. Leaving a child in a car exposes them to many dangers and no extenuating circumstances justified mother’s actions.



In re Q.K.J.,
48 A.3d 1075 (N.J. 2012). In case where children were removed from mother for over a year when parental rights were terminated and mother claimed for the first time on appeal that the state did not properly have care and control of her children to support ground that she could not provide a safe home despite appropriate services, mother’s claim was barred by laches. Laches bars a party that does not challenge a finding for a time and changed circumstances for another party would make it unjust to proceed. Here, the bonds the children made with their foster parents weighed against the mother’s claim.


Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. D.S.H., 40 A.3d 734 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2012). Termination of biological father’s parental rights was not needed so that legal father could adopt child. Though genetic testing revealed that father was not biologically related to child, this did not change his status as legal father. No one contested father’s legal right to parent and his retention of custody without termination would continue to provide the mother the ability to visit, which was in the child’s best interests.


New Jersey Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. R.D., 23 A.3d 352 (N.J. 2011).  Abuse and neglect finding in prior proceeding could not be given collateral estoppel effect in later termination of parental rights proceeding as proof by clear and convincing evidence that child would be endangered by parental relationship; father did not receive adequate notice by trial court in earlier proceedings that court could determine case under either preponderance of evidence or higher clear and convincing evidence standard required to give prior finding collateral effect in subsequent proceeding.


Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. M.G., 47 A.3d 764 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2012). Father’s continued homelessness and failure to comply with services were an improper basis for a default finding in termination proceedings. Default is appropriate for failures to defend a case such as absence from a hearing or failing to engage in discovery. A default for failing to comply with orders related to case plan effectively deprived the father of a meaningful trial on the merits.


C.D. v. R.R., 2011 WL 780899 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div.). Trial court properly determined infant’s safety, health, and development were endangered by father and that father’s rights should be terminated based on findings that he had been incarcerated since child’s birth and would not be released before child was 4 ½ years, he was not available as a parent and had not met child’s needs, bonding evaluation showed father made child anxious, prison visits had not gone well, and child had strong relationship with maternal grandmother with whom he was placed.


In re T.G., 90 A.3d 1258 (N.J. 2014). In case where incarcerated father maintained contact with daughter, had been provided little to no assistance toward reunification or another permanency goal, and evidence was conflicting as to the effect of severing the parent-child bond, trial court properly found state failed to meet clear and convincing standard to terminate parental rights. FULL SUMMARY



N.J. Div. of Child Prot. & Perm. v. K.T.D., 108 A.3d 685 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2015). Trial court in proceeding to terminate parental rights of mother with Native American ancestors was required to notify Indian tribes and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) of guardianship proceeding and right to intervene, even though mother failed to supply information required by BIA regulation about child’s genealogy and was not enrolled or registered member of any Cherokee tribe. Mother’s actions or inactions did not affect protections afforded to child under Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) since it presumes that not separating child from family and tribal heritage was in her best interests, and identity of tribe to which paternal ancestors belonged was unknown.


In re Brianna Monique F., 2015 WL 3949255 (N.Y. App. Div.). Mentally ill mother moved for court to conduct Frye hearing in termination of parental rights proceeding, which court properly denied because expert’s opinion did not involve “obviously novel forensic and social science techniques.” Expert conducted comprehensive review of mother’s medical records, agency case records, and court files, and interviewed mother for four hours. Mother had poor history of compliance with treatment and placed child in danger when experiencing acute symptoms.




In re L.J.D., 54 A.3d 293 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2012). Where mother contended that agency should have placed her and her child in a program for teen mothers before terminating her parental rights, trial, court did not err in finding the agency made reasonable efforts. Fact that she had been in one such program and disrupted it and other placements due to her behavior reasonably explained the lack of success the agency had in finding another placement because she did not meet criteria for admission to this service.


Div. of Youth and Family Servs. v. H.R., 67 A.3d 689 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2013). Though grounds were established for termination, case was remanded in part because court did not properly consider alternatives to adoption where aunt who was willing to adopt child was given incorrect information that kinship legal guardianship was only available for a child 12 or older. Since aunt was open to contact with the parents if they remained sober, this could be the preferred option.

In re K.L.W., 18 A.3d 193 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2011). Termination case required remand for further proceedings where trial court did not consider agency’s failure to contact grandparents, who cared for child’s siblings early in the case, because the mother requested they not be contacted; agency had duty to contact relatives and assess their ability and willingness to serve as caretakers and statutory requirement had no exception for parental requests.


Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. M.D., 11 A.3d 381 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2011). Mother’s lawyer provided ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to advise mother that by stipulating to using the stove to heat her home after child welfare agency advised her not to she would be deemed to have committed child abuse and/or neglect; lawyer failed to ensure mother received minimal protections, which prejudiced mother.


N.J. Div. of Child Prot. & Perm. v. J.C., 2015 WL 3537798 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div.). Evidence was insufficient to find mother’s alcohol use caused her to neglect three-year-old son although she left him in dirty diaper and unsupervised in separate room with apartment door open after night of drinking. Mother was not diagnosed with alcohol-related disorder and received no recommendation for follow-up care after substance abuse evaluation. Agency failed to prove that mother neglected son because he was not injured and conduct did not rise to level of gross negligence or reckless disregard for child’s safety.