N.J. Dep’t of Children & Families, Div of Youth & Family Servs. V. I.S. A-81-11

Posted by: New Jersey sex crime defense lawyer, Jeffery Hark

The recent decision in N.J. Dep’t of Children & Families, Div of Youth & Family Servs. V. I.S. A-81-11 by the NJ Supreme Court reversed and affirmed in part the Appellate Division’s decision in upholding the use of Title 9 for the removal of two twins from their biological mother, I.S. The biological mother volunteered to have her daughters placed in a residential care facility however the court could not find a finding of neglect and abuse as required under Title 9, N.J.S.A 9:6-8.21 necessary for the court to have jurisdiction to remove the children.

However under Title 30, N.J.S.A 30:4C-12, there need not be a finding of neglect and abuse to have the children removed. The trial court erred in not dismissing the Title 9 Complaint and instead should have relied on Title 30 for jurisdiction. Title 30 is an acceptable alternative to Title 9 for removal proceedings when there is no abuse or neglect. The trial court’s finding that the children become wards of the state was reasonable and affirmed, however the expansion in direct opposition of the plain language and Legislative intent of Title 9 was reversed.

The Supreme Court did not find an error with the consolidation of the Title 30 actions and the Family Court custody matters. Although Title 30 and custody matters are usually separate, here in this case since the consolidation was harmless, consolidation was not inappropriate.

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