New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency v. G.L.S.Annotate this Case
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE
APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY
DOCKET NOS. A-0
New Jersey Division of Child
Protection and Permanency,
G.L.S. and S.M.W.,
IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP
OF I.V.S., a minor.
November 24, 2014
Submitted November 18, 2014 Decided
Before Judges Fasciale and Hoffman.
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Mercer County, Docket No. FG-11-12-14.
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant G.L.S. (Jay Berstein, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant S.M.W. (Chanell Branch, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Andrea M. Silkowitz, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; John W. Tolleris, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney for minor I.V.S. (Christopher A. Huling, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
S.M.W. and G.L.S. (collectively referred to as "defendants") appeal from a January 27, 2014 final judgment terminating their parental rights to their biological child I.V.S., born in 2012. Defendants contend 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 the prevailing legal standards and arguments presented, we affirm.
We will not recite in detail the history of the Division's involvement with defendants. Instead, we incorporate by reference the factual findings and legal conclusions contained in Judge Audrey P. Blackburn's thorough oral decision. We add the following brief comments.
We are satisfied that, commencing with the Division's involvement with defendants in October 2012 as to I.V.S.,1 and continuing up to and including the commencement of the trial one year later, defendants were unable or unwilling to overcome the deficiencies that rendered them unable to safely parent I.V.S.
S.M.W. has a long criminal history and has been incarcerated since February 2012 pending charges that she sexually assaulted two of her children. Prior to her incarceration, the Division offered numerous services but S.M.W. did not avail herself of them. S.M.W. also has a history of mental health illness, behavioral problems, and substance abuse. Despite being diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and postpartum depression, S.M.W. has repeatedly failed to take her psychotropic medication regularly.
G.L.S. has never held himself out as a placement resource for I.V.S. or any of his other children. He has failed to maintain steady employment despite being able-bodied. G.L.S. also missed numerous scheduled visitation appointments with I.V.S. and only stayed for less than half the allotted time when he did attend. Credible expert testimony revealed that G.L.S. does not understand his children's needs and does not have the empathy necessary to meet those needs. A bonding evaluation revealed that I.V.S. did not have an emotional bond with G.L.S., and is instead closely bonded with his foster family.
Therefore, the credible evidence demonstrates that both S.M.W. and G.L.S. lack the capacity to care for I.V.S., and are incapable of providing him a safe, stable, and permanent home.
Judge Blackburn carefully review 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 N.J. Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. A.W., 103 N.J. 591 (1986), and is supported by substantial and credible evidence in the record. N.J. 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.
1 The Division has been involved with defendants since May 2010 as to their four other children and S.M.W.'s sixth child with another individual. Currently, S.M.W.'s mother has custody of these five children.