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Thursday, July 26, 2012

NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES VS. M.G. IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF A.R.G., A MINOR


NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES VS. M.G. IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF A.R.G., A MINOR           A-4608-10T1

The defendant in this termination of parental rights case was represented by counsel and regularly appeared at scheduled hearings in the Title 9 and Title 30 proceedings. We consider whether it was proper to enter default against him based upon his sporadic failures to comply with orders that required him to submit to evaluations and obtain services and conclude that it was not. This error was compounded by the trial court's error in repeatedly referring to the standard applicable to a motion to vacate default judgment as the standard to be applied in a motion to vacate default. We further find it was an abuse of discretion to allow DYFS, over counsel's objection, to rely upon the written reports of psychological and bonding experts without producing them as witnesses. The flaws in the procedures here resulted in a failure to provide M.G. with the "fundamentally fair procedures" required before his parental rights could be terminated. We therefore reverse the termination order and remand for a new trial. 07-23-12