The Appellate Division affirmed the termination of parental rights, thereby allowing the adoption of a child by her grandparents in a contested private adoption. Cooper Levenson’s Jennifer Barr represented the grandparents on appeal. The Appellate Division ruled in In the Matter of the Adoption of a Child by C.M. and C.M., Docket No. A-3562-20 (App. Div. Mar. 11, 2022), that the birth mother had not affirmatively assumed the duties encompassed by the role of being a parent, and that termination of her parental rights was in the best interest of the child. In 2015, the child was born to her mother who had a history of mental health and substance abuse issues. The child’s grandparents sought to terminate parental rights in order to adopt the child. The legal standard for terminating parental rights is set forth by statute, N.J.S.A. 9:3-46(a), which provides criteria to evaluate whether a birth parent has assumed parental duties, including whether the parent has fulfilled financial obligations, demonstrated continued interest in the in the child, demonstrated a genuine effort to maintain communication with the child, and whether the parent has established and maintained a place of importance in the child’s life. Here, the Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s finding that the birth mother had not provided evidence to show that she had assumed parental duties. Accordingly, the court terminated the birth mother’s parental rights, thus permitting the child’s grandparents to proceed with adoption. The Appellate Division opinion is available here.
For further information on this or other family matters contact Jennifer Barr or Cynthia Grob.