Articles Posted in Abuse and Neglect

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On August 15, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division approved for publication the decision in the matter of E.S. v. H.A (A-3230-14T2 and A-3256-14T2), in which the Appellate Division addressed whether a parent may be required to admit to a crime as a condition for that parent to be able to make an application for visitation with one’s child.  The Appellate Division concluded that parents cannot be required by the state to forego their Constitutional right against self-incrimination as a condition to seek custody or visitation with their child.

In this case, the parties divorced in 2009, but they had been unable to resolve their custody and parenting time dispute over their son, Richard, by the time of the divorce.  During the litigation, Plaintiff’s two requests for domestic violence restraining orders against Defendant were denied.  During the litigation she reported to the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) that Defendant had sexually abused Richard on two occasions, leading to the suspension of Defendant’s visitation.   One month after the divorce, DCPP determined that the “abuse was substantiated for sexual molestation” of Richard by Defendant as to one of the two alleged incidents.  While Defendant pursued an administrative appeal of the DCPP findings, Plaintiff filed an application in the family court seeking to reinstate a suspension of Defendant’s parenting time.  The family court scheduled a hearing to determine whether it was in Richard’s best interest for parenting time with Defendant to resume, and appointed a psychologist to conduct an evaluation.

By the time of the hearing in 2012, Defendant had withdrawn his appeal of the DCPP findings.  The family court in 2013 issued an oral opinion, finding that there was clear and convincing evidence that Defendant had sexually abused Richard.  The court granted Plaintiff sole legal and physical custody of Richard and denied Defendant parenting time.  As recommended by the psychological experts, the court further ordered that if the Defendant (1) admitted wrong-doing; (2) submitted to a psycho-sexual evaluation; and (3) participated in individual therapy, he could apply for a consideration of future parenting time through Therapeutic Management Reunification.

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In the published opinion in the matter of Division of Child Protection and Permanency v. T.U.B. & J.E.C., (A-2565-15T2) the trial court terminated the Defendant’s parental rights in a Title 30 DSC2330-300x200guardianship case based upon the admission of hearsay statements by children about corroborated allegations of abuse or neglect pursuant to N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.46(a)(4). The hearsay statements made by the children involved allegations of sexual abuse that were later in part recanted by one of the non-testifying child declarants. Continue reading

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We have all now probably seen or heard the public service announcement of “If you see something, say something.” which is usually in the context of witnessing suspicious package or person. On May 17, 2017 the Supreme Court of New Jersey, in affirming the ruling the of the Appellate Division in the case of New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency v. J.L.G  and In the Matter of B.G., M.A and M.G., (A-1746-13T2), sent a clear message to individuals that witnessing a domestic partner abuse a child and doing nothing to stop that abuse can lead to a finding that the witness also abused the child. Continue reading

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The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), 42 U.S.C. § 13701 et seq., is a United States federal law that was originally passed in 1994 and was reauthorized in 2013 in which the spouses and children and parents of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents may self-petition to obtain lawful permanent residency in the United States. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is the law that governs immigration in the United States. The VAWA provisions relating to immigration are codified in section 204(a) of the INA. Rules published in the Federal Register explain the eligibility requirements and procedures for filing a self-petition under the VAWA provisions. People who may apply include: (1) a spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident; (2) a child of U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident; (3) a spouse of U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who’s child has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty for the reason bANGEL-13-144x300eing that a parent files for self-petition based on abuse of the child but both parent and child benefit; and (4) parent of a U.S. citizen . It is important to note that, despite its title, the VAWA is applicable to both men and women although spouses of undocumented foreign nationals cannot self-petition. Continue reading

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On February 1, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division published its opinion in the case of New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency v. V.E., A-0586-15T4 — A.3d —- (2017). V.E.file000626018085-300x225 is the mother of R.S. now age nine.  V.E. appealed an administrative finding of the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency  (“DCPP) that “established” a finding of abuse or neglect without her first being given an evidentiary hearing. The Appellate Division reversed the decision of the trial court to not afford V.E. a plenary hearing “because an established finding is a finding of child abuse or neglect under N.J.S.A. 9:6–8.21(c)(4), subject to disclosure as permitted by N.J.S.A. 9:6–8.11a(b) and other statutes, due process considerations require a party against whom abuse or neglect is established be afforded plenary administrative review. The agency’s denial of an administrative hearing is reversed.” Continue reading

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The Presidential election is about a month away, and one of the major issues of this election has been immigration.   Immigration is regulated under federal law, chiefly under the Immigration and

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Nationality Act (INA), enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1952, and the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1986 in an effort to curb illegal immigration.   The U.S. Supreme Court has has almost universally overruled any state’s efforts to regulate immigration, not only based upon the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, but also to ensure a national standard on immigration rather than various patchwork laws by the individual states.  Family law, however, is an area that falls into the control of the individual state’s authority to legislate and govern. Continue reading

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In New Jersey, it is well established that both parties have an obligation to support their children financially.  Accordingly, child support obligations are one of the primary issues dealt with when a marriage or relationship ends between people who have children, whether it be my consensual agreement or court order. However, the amount of child support due may be subject to a later modification.  After the entry of a child support obligation, there are a number situations or circumstances that can occur that might warrant a later termination of modification of that child support obligation, including but not nearly limited to the following: the child’s emancipation, a change in the child’s needs, the involuntary loss of income to one of the parents, or a substantial increase in the income of either parent. Continue reading

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TANGEL 13he jurisdiction of the Family Part of the New Jersey Superior Court to make orders determining custody is based upon the common law doctrine of parens patriae, which imposes upon the court an affirmative duty to protect the best interests of minor children. The members the New Jersey Judiciary that serve our State in making these decisions will tell you that these decisions are some of the most difficult they have faced in their professional careers and also some of the most rewarding. On December 15, 2015, the Supreme Court of New Jersey issued an opinion modifying and affirming the Appellate Division’s decision denying the appeal by the New Jersey Division of Child Protection & Permanency in the case of New Jersey Division of Child Protection & Permanency v. K.N. and K.E., 435 N.J. Super. 16 (App.Div. 2014), wherein the “Division” appealed from a June, 2013 order that awarded custody of T.E. (“Tommy”), the six-year-old son of K.N. (“Kara”) and T.E. (“Kevin”) to his maternal grandmother as a paid resource placement parents. Continue reading

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Months ago when NFL running back Ray Rice was accused of domestic abuse and a video surfaced purportedly showing him dragging his then fiancee unconscious from an Atlantic City casino elevator, it was the prevailing view of most that Mr. Rice had knocked her out during some sort of altercation on that elevator. Indeed, Mr. Rice was charged with aggravated assault as a result of this incident. Continue reading

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The Family Court handles divergent case types. Although most people think the issues handled by Family Part judges relate to divorce, the reach of the family court is far broader. Many of the controversies resolved by the court deal with issues regarding children including Juvenile matters and matters involving abuse and neglect. Whether embedded in a divorce or presented to the court as an independent action, there are no more important issues faced by a Family Part chancellor than child-centered issues. The Division of Child Protection and Permanency, formally known as The Division of Youth and Family Services, is charged under our law with protecting children and supervising those custodians whose action causes concern. Certainly the mandate of the Division is to keep families united, but often the Division takes custody of children and places them outside their home if it is determined that the child is endangered in the household. The Division by mandate responds to reports of abuse received from known responsible sources as well as anonymously reported instances of abuse or neglect. Continue reading