New Jersey Supreme Court and DYFS-CPS

Highest court criticizes DYFS
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
BY MARY FUCHS
NorthJersey.com
STATE HOUSE BUREAU
In a unanimous decision today, New Jersey’s Supreme Court criticized the state Division of Youth and Family Services for ending an investigation of a woman who had “abused and neglected” her two children.

DYFS should have decided in court where the children could live, free from harm, instead of awarding custody to the woman’s ex-husband, said the justices.

“Rather than relying on the wishes of the children, the division should have focused on whether the children could be safely returned to the custody of the mother,” Justice John Wallace wrote for the court.

The case involves a custody battle between a Hunterdon County woman and her ex-husband, who now lives in Florida, over their two children. All of the individuals’ names are protected by the court and were not released.

One night in March 2006, the daughter texted her father, saying that she was having an argument with her mother. From Florida, the ex-husband called New Jersey State Police, who came to the woman’s home and allegedly found her drunk. The daughter had scratches on her arm and had become sick after her mom grabbed her and choked her.

State Police Trooper Kelly Bene called the Division of Youth and Family Services and a case worker came to the home that night. Both children told her that their mother drank every day. The case worker temporarily moved the children to a neighbor’s home.

Through DYFS, the woman accepted substance abuse treatment and counseling, while the kids were temporarily sent to Florida, to live with their father. Eight months after DYFS got involved in the case, the trial court followed the agency’s recommendation and awarded permanent custody of the two kids to the father, in Florida.

A state appeals court previously ruled DYFS and the trial court had made a mistake because they had not weighed the evidence — and the woman’s progress — when deciding where it was safest for the children to live. Now a lower court will have to do that in deciding which parent will get custody.

Mary Fuchs is a reporter for The Star-Ledger. She may be reached at mfuchs@starledger.com

In a unanimous decision today, New Jersey’s Supreme Court criticized the state Division of Youth and Family Services for ending an investigation of a woman who had “abused and neglected” her two children.

DYFS should have decided in court where the children could live, free from harm, instead of awarding custody to the woman’s ex-husband, said the justices.

“Rather than relying on the wishes of the children, the division should have focused on whether the children could be safely returned to the custody of the mother,” Justice John Wallace wrote for the court.

The case involves a custody battle between a Hunterdon County woman and her ex-husband, who now lives in Florida, over their two children. All of the individuals’ names are protected by the court and were not released.

One night in March 2006, the daughter texted her father, saying that she was having an argument with her mother. From Florida, the ex-husband called New Jersey State Police, who came to the woman’s home and allegedly found her drunk. The daughter had scratches on her arm and had become sick after her mom grabbed her and choked her.

State Police Trooper Kelly Bene called the Division of Youth and Family Services and a case worker came to the home that night. Both children told her that their mother drank every day. The case worker temporarily moved the children to a neighbor’s home.

Through DYFS, the woman accepted substance abuse treatment and counseling, while the kids were temporarily sent to Florida, to live with their father. Eight months after DYFS got involved in the case, the trial court followed the agency’s recommendation and awarded permanent custody of the two kids to the father, in Florida.

A state appeals court previously ruled DYFS and the trial court had made a mistake because they had not weighed the evidence — and the woman’s progress — when deciding where it was safest for the children to live. Now a lower court will have to do that in deciding which parent will get custody.

Mary Fuchs is a reporter for The Star-Ledger. She may be reached at mfuchs@starledger.com.

Am I missing something here? Is this court saying that an alcoholic, abusive woman is better for the children than a loving Father? Maybe there is more to this story but with the names withheld I can’t find any more info on this family.

Seems its the text-book case for a reversal of custody but the high court has thrown it out and the process has begun all over again. It seems to me the Child Protective Services did exactly what they were supposed to do in this case.

If anyone has any more information on this case I would love to hear it.


6 Responses to "New Jersey Supreme Court and DYFS-CPS"

  1. Someone Else says:

    So Justice John Wallace says that the kids don’t know what’s best for them?! And the judges do?! Kids are incredibly insightful. ( Judges are messed up.) Judges and attorneys are involved in some of the worst decisions being made in this country! Let alone NJ! DYFS is not perfect (what government agency is?) and neither are parents. Kids aren’t either. So we will just have to hope that parents STOP drinking, smoking, using drugs, cheating on their spouses, and STOP ignoring God. PARENTS can rise to the blessing of being a parent! If you are not ready for parenthood, practice abstinence. Don’t get married until you are ready to bear the responsibility of becoming a parent (and a good one at that)!

  2. website for parent right at http://www.cpsdyfslawsuitadvocates.com
    helping many nationwide.i volunteer there from hunterdon county to philly.
    now to the,to above poster of such non-astuteness,your a idiot so you fit in two categories;now your either a caseworker or some LOSER who never really dealt with cps by way of being either lily white and or another race whose thinking your all that so your untouchable.nevertheless the decision is precedent and so great to see dad has no business procuring custody ILLEGALLY BY NEW JERSEY CROOKED CPS SO THANK YOU HIGHEST COURT JUDGE for finally do the right thing. dyfs falsify records in nj as all over so happy to see this what a great victory.and yes dyfs do tear apart normal loving family member life as this one.did not happen to me but my bro whose a banker for 19 year
    as part time teacher substitute for 10 years middle class black /spanish mix family and our grandma is white retire from DHS in NJ she know fraud in the court and dyfs happen regularly but all about suing them she say immediate soon as this corruption like in this sad case happen to get your ending final justice.so happy this case result in a win.great to see.as REAL parents who love the kid do not give up spend all they have to get final justice glad this mother above is doing just that.

  3. Mitch Stanton-Middlesex County NJ says:

    dyfs do not care,but this ruling i agree is a nice victory other family can now use it in their own case to refer to.this is great.and Melanie tell your
    grandmother i agree. she is right it do happen to take a baby or child away keep em away that is how they get paid.so true.tragic.if this happen to me i am going to sue.thank you for your site info or your boss site i see it now.so much good info on it very empowering. and thank to this blog owner for this great 09 victory against dyfs.

  4. R.S. says:

    I think it is time that DYFS is investigated by the proper authorities. Let’s clean out all these representatives who have nothing better to do than harass parents and ruin lives. As obvious by the 7-0 ruling in the New Jersey Supreme Court, DYFS needs to re-evaluate their definition of abuse and neglect. This case is a clear example of personal bias and overzealous reaction.

    Stop DYFS from abusing their power by demanding a full investigation by Gov. Chris Christie: Sign The Petition.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-dyfs-from-abusing-their-power

    • Robert says:

      You are absolutely correct. I think with the recent ruling of 7-0 by the NJ supreme court concerning the wrongful removal of the 16 year old girl, more people will be encouraged to go after DYFS. The state won’t be able to take this beating for too long, DYFS will have to be scrapped or drastically reformed. I’d love to see a number of agents end their career in jail.

  5. rose333 says:

    jersey city 2003[ my own flesh blood]granddaughter was taking away from my care by dyfs-cps and my others grandchildren too, because my granddaughter was mix black-white black–dyfs stated that my granddaughter should be raised by black family and took all my three of my grandchildren who were mix por-rica,take out of my care so fast not kowning this would ever happent, it hurt me so bad to brake my family this way. dyfs had no right to discriminate me and took my rights away for three years there is more to this story,

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