The recent New Jersey Supreme Court ruling in New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. J.G., allowed J.G., a devoted father, to regain custody of his daughter and set an important precedent for formerly incarcerated parents throughout New Jersey. From the moment of his daughter’s birth, J.G. cared for her, changing her diapers, taking her to the doctor, and fulfilling all other normal paternal responsibilities. This developing relationship abruptly ended when he was incarcerated in 2004. While he was in prison, his daughter was placed in the care of her maternal grandmother.
Once released from prison, J.G. sought to continue a relationship with her, to remain in her life, to be her father. Nonetheless, the Department of Children and Families (DYFS) took the position that his parent rights should be terminated – permanently severing the parent/child bonds and legal connections. J.G. fought the request. The state took the position that J.G. efforts to maintain bonds with his daughter were, given his incarceration, insufficient. But last month, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued its ruling in New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. J.G.