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Monday, September 15, 2014

DYFS vs. S.I. I/M/O S.I., a minor. A-2878-12T1

DYFS vs. S.I. I/M/O S.I., a minor. 
We reversed an order of abuse and neglect resulting from a custodial grandparent's refusal to comply with the Division's recommendation for the twelve-year-old child to undergo a psychiatric assessment. The grandmother insisted the child was rebelling and acting out, and was not suicidal. The Division removed the child, obtained what was an unremarkable mental health assessment, and filed Title 9 complaint alleging medical neglect. 

We concluded there was no competent evidence the conduct complained of rose to the level of abuse and neglect because there was no proof the disagreement with the Division's recommendation recklessly created a substantial risk to the child's mental or physical safety, as required by N.J. Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. A.L., 213 N.J. 1 (2013). The trial judge's view that an immediate mental status evaluation was necessary was based on a generalized concern for teenage suicide and untethered to the facts of the case, which was void of factual or expert evidence demonstrating the child was in imminent danger. [*Approved for Publication date]