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DYFS Approach Called “Troubling” by NJ Appeals Court

02
Aug
2010

by in Criminal Defense

DYFS v. C.W./Matter of A.R., H.W., and D.W., Jr., unpublished opinion, App. Div. Docket No. A-5074-08T4 (June 8, 2010) – Termination of parental rights reversed, case remanded for further proceedings.

“In summary, we find troubling the cursory approach taken by DYFS, counsel and the court in this case. Prior to the June 14, 2006 incident, Carol was regarded by DYFS as sufficiently responsible to act as her husband’s supervisor in his interactions with his children. She had a stable work history, a stable residence and no history of child abuse. To all appearances, Carol had successfully parented children for a period of fourteen years.

Following DYFS’s discovery of Carol’s single act of forgery, custody of her children was given to Carol’s mother, and in short order, to an aunt and uncle in Maryland. It is unclear to us what harm to the children transpired that would require so drastic a remedy. Thereafter, reunification became a physical impossibility as the result of the geographic separation between Carol and the girls.

The girls appear to have bonded with their relatives, although we do not have record evidence of that fact…. [E]vidence may well support the termination of parental rights that occurred in this matter. Nonetheless, we seek more definite evidence that such was required, and for that reason, we remand the case for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion. The court may engage in further factfinding based on the current record, or it can reopen the record, should that appear warranted.”

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