Monday, July 16, 2007

Parents Win One in New Jersey

NJ Div. of Youth and Family Servs. v. G.L. In this decision the Court considered whether a parent may be subjected to termination of her parental rights for failing to eliminate the harm to the child posed by her spouse. The trial court terminated the defendant-mother's parental rights because of her continuing relationship with the father, who earlier had been convicted of child endangerment for shaking to death another of his and the mother's children. The Court reversed. NJSA 30:4C-15.1 allows for termination of parental rights based upon behavior, not beliefs. So long as G.L. was an able mother and conducted herself in a way that secured the child’s safety, the statutory standard for terminating her parental rights was not met. There is no reason why G.L. cannot maintain her belief in and relationship with her husband so long as she does not live with him or allow him unsupervised visits with the child.

This is an update from a post on May 7th. The court sided with the Public Defender and Legal Services of New Jersey in its analysis indicating one parent cannot be held responsible for the fault of another. This is an especially important decision for poor parents in New Jersey, specifically poor mothers. 95% of the parents who come into DYFS care are poor and most are women, a shocking, but true statistic.

No comments: