Parental Rights and Incarceration in New Jersey DCP&P Cases

Union County DCP&P Defense Lawyers

DYFS Attorneys Near Me in Elizabeth, New Jersey

Can the NJ Courts terminate my parental rights because I’m in jail?

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Parental Rights in NJ

Parents who are in jail or prison often ask: can the Court terminate my parental rights because I am incarcerated? The answer is: maybe.   Generally speaking, being incarcerated either in jail pending the outcome of a criminal matter or in prison due to a sentence on a criminal conviction will not automatically result in the termination of that parent’s rights by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, formerly known as DYFS. However, the Court will engage in a fact-sensitive inquiry, as in every other case, to determine whether or not the parent’s incarceration makes him or her unable to parent based on the four prongs of the best interests standard set forth in N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1. If you are incarcerated or you are expecting to be sentenced to a term in prison and DCP&P has filed a complaint for custody, care and supervision, or guardianship of your children, you should contact a DCP&P defense attorney at the Tormey Law Firm to discuss the potential outcomes of your case. We represent clients throughout Union County NJ including in Elizabeth, Linden, Scotch Plains, and Union Township. Contact our offices now for a free initial consultation at (908)-356-6900.

Incarceration Alone is Not Enough to Terminate Your Parental Rights in New Jersey

New Jersey termination of parental rights law is clear that incarceration alone, without particularized evidence of how a parent’s incarceration affects each prong of the best interests of the child standard is an insufficient basis for terminating parental rights. N.J. Div. of Youth and Family Servs. v. R.G., 217 N.J. 527 (2014).   In other words, the Court must assess if the parent’s incarceration somehow harmed the child, whether or not the parent can remediate that harm, if the Division provided or at least attempted to provide the incarcerated parent with reasonable efforts, and whether or not termination of that parent’s rights would not cause more harm than good to the children. The Appellate Division explained that for purposes of determining parental fitness and the parent’s potential for rehabilitation in a guardianship trial, a parent’s imprisonment necessarily limits the ability to perform the regular and expected parental functions, and it also may serve to frustrate nurturing and development of emotional bonds and as a substantial obstacle to achieving permanency and stability in the child’s life. N.J. Div. of Youth and Family Servs. v. S.A., 382 N.J. Super. 525 (App. Div. 2006). Thus, there must be a broad inquiry regarding the nature of the parent’s criminal disposition, the extent of any rehabilitation and, with the assistance of an expert opinion, an assessment of the need of the child for permanency and stability.

Contact Local Union County DYFS Attorneys Today

As with every type of case that is litigated by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, the applicable law is nuanced and complex especially when dealing with an incarcerated parent. If you or a family member is incarcerated and DCP&P is involved with your family’s children, it is important to contact an experienced DCP&P defense attorney to learn about how incarceration may effect parental rights. The DYFS lawyers at the Tormey Law Firm are available and ready to discuss any and all aspects of DCP&P involvement with your family now at (908)-356-6900.

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