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Abuse and Neglect

“The Federal Constitution and the New Jersey Constitution protect the inviolability of the family unit.” New Jersey Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. C.S., 367 N.J. Super. 76, 109 (App. Div. 2004) (citing Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645, 92 S.Ct. 1208, 31 L.Ed.2d 551 (1972)). “The constitutional protection surrounding family rights is tempered by the State’s parens patriae responsibility to protect the welfare of children.” In re Guardianship of K.H.O., 161 N.J. 337, 347 (1999) (citing In re Guardianship of J.C., 129 N.J. 1, 10 (1992)). “In balancing those competing concerns, a court must ensure that the statutory and constitutional rights of the parent or guardian are scrupulously protected. G.M., supra, 198 N.J. at 397 (citing J.C., 129 supra, 129 N.J. at 10). According to New Jersey Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. J.Y., 352 N.J. Super. 245, 261 (App. Div. 2002):

These safeguards are designed to serve dual salutary functions: to protect innocent parents against precipitous governmental intrusion or interference with their fundamental right to the parental relationship and to spare the children the emotional trauma resulting from an unwarranted separation from their parents.

[Ibid.]

“The Legislature charged the Division with the responsibility of protecting the health and welfare of the children of this state.”  G.M., supra, 198 N.J. at 397; N.J.S.A. 30:4C-4. “The procedures for accomplishing those obligations are set forth in Title Nine, [N.J.S.A.  9:6-8.21 to 8.73], and Title Thirty, [N.J.S.A.  30:4C-11 to -14].” Ibid. In N.J. Dept. of Children and Families, Div. of Youth and Family Services v. A.L., 213 N.J. 1, 18 (2013), the New Jersey Supreme Court stated:

Title 9 governs acts of abuse and neglect against a child.  It provides interim relief for children at risk and outlines the standards for abuse and neglect proceedings against parents and guardians. Title 30 . . . empowers the Division to seek temporary care and custody of a child who is part of a family in need of services.

[Ibid. (citing N.J. Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. R.D., 207 N.J. 88, 110–11 (2011); N.J.S.A. 30:4C–12).]

“The Division usually pleads Title 9 and Title 30 claims concurrently in order to facilitate the efficient processing of assistance to the family.” New Jersey Dep’t of Children & Families, Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. I.S., 214 N.J. 8, 31 (2013) cert. denied, 134 S. Ct. 529 (2013); See also New Jersey Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. N.D., 417 N.J. Super. 96, 109 (App. Div. 2010) (citing N.J. Div. of Youth and Family Servs. v. M.M., 189 N.J. 261, 292–93 (2007)). “The judge must consider and apply the statutory standards found in both Title 9 and Title 30” when evaluating the “sufficiency” of the Division’s application. J.Y., supra, 352 N.J. Super. at 245.