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Caregiver Case

Philip C. Puglisi, Esq., a Bergen County divorce lawyer, thought you would be interested in the recent case regarding who can and cannot be a caregiver for a child in New Jersey.

In New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. J.S., App. Div. (Sabatino, J.A.D.) (32 pp.) “defendant, a biological father, appeals from the Family Part’s judgment terminating his parental rights as to his minor child following a multi-day trial.  Among other things, defendant argues that the trial court erred in upholding a decision of the Division of Youth and Family Services to “rule out” two cousins who had expressed interest in serving as alternative caregivers for the child.”  Affirming the final judgment, “we reject defendant’s argument that the division lacks the authority to rule out relatives under N.J.S.A. 30:4C-12.1 based on considerations of a child’s best interests.  Instead, we hold that the applicable statutory provisions and a related regulation, N.J.A.C. 10:120A-3.1, allow the division to rule out a relative on such best-interests grounds, regardless of the relative’s willingness or ability to care for a child.  However, the division’s rule-out authority is always subject to the Family Part’s ultimate assessment of that child’s best interests.  We also uphold the validity of the language in N.J.A.C. 10:120A-3.1(b) prohibiting a relative who the division rules out on best-interest grounds from pursuing an administrative appeal of that agency determination.  However, we urge the division to act with reasonable diligence in notifying a potential caretaker that he or she has been ruled out, once the investigation of that person has been completed.”

Phil Puglisi reiterates that the standard always is the best interest of the child when determining an appropriate caregiver.

Philip C. Puglisi, Esq., has been practicing family law for just under 40 years.  He is extremely competent, diligent, and experienced handling an extensive variety of family law matters from the simple to the complex.  He encourages you to call the the Law Offices of Philip C. Puglisi, LLC at 201-431-8400 for a free consultation.

Posted in Child Custody