DYFS Cases Cannot Continue when the Court finds No Abuse or Neglect, Absent Parental Unfitness

The Appellate Division has now disapproved of the common practice of trial Courts keeping DYFS cases open for “monitoring”, when the Court finds that DYFS did NOT prove abuse or neglect.  In DYFS v. T.S, the Court held that trial Courts cannot simply infer from testimony at the Fact Finding hearing that there is a need for DYFS “to provide services to the family or the children”.  If DYFS cannot prove abuse or neglect, DYFS must apply for a Order under Title 30 and prove parental unfitness, endangerment, etc.

Importantly, the Decision rebukes the routine of “unnecessarily obligating parents to participate in programs and undergo testing because they are routinely ordered”, noting that such cookbook services “may unnecessarily limit a parent’s ability to focus on meeting the child’s needs.”

Defense attorneys can now be armed with strong language in a published decision, stressing the need for tailoring Court Orders to the problems facing families.

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