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Monday, February 4, 2008

New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. T.P. // In the Matter of the Guardianship of C.S. and A.C.

01-18-08 A-3791-06T4

We held that the provisions of N.J.S.A. 9:2-2 governing the
removal of children from this state over the objection of a
parent apply to a caregiver granted Kinship Legal Guardianship
(KLG) pursuant to N.J.S.A. 30:4C-84 to -92 and N.J.S.A. 3B:12A-1
to -7.

Defendant consented to the appointment of his son's
maternal aunt as a kinship legal guardian but objected to the
removal of his son from this state without the court first
determining whether removal was in the child's best interest.
Defendant also objected to the court granting KLG without
including an order directing the Division of Youth and Family
Services (Division) to facilitate visitation or, alternatively,
assume the costs of visitation.

We rejected the Division's argument that the provisions of
N.J.S.A. 9:2-2 do not apply to unmarried parents. We also
questioned the Division's reliance upon its regulation
implementing the legal guardianship subsidy program, N.J.A.C.
10:132A-1.1 to -3.5, as support for its position that visitation
is a "placement-related activity" for which there is no
available funding. We remanded to the Family Part to conduct
further proceedings to determine whether the removal of the
minor child from New Jersey to North Carolina was in his best
interest and, if so, whether the circumstances of this KLG
should include an order directing the Division to facilitate
visitation and to what extent, if any, visitation costs should
and can be funded by the Division.