We don’t typically post about DYFS (now DCPP) or similar type cases on this blog as we usually focus on divorce and related issues. That said, for fun, I was reading the new cases that were decided yesterday and came upon a case that I found compelling, both because it indicated some systemic problems in custody cases and because it had some real strong language about parental rights – that while stating the obvious, perhaps, did so in a powerful way and in a way that needed to be reiterated.
The case I’m talking about is C.D., A.P. and D.D. v. N.D.M. and A.L. which was an unreported (non-precedential) decision released by the Appellate Division on January 8, 2013. In that case, the aunt and grandparents received temporary custody of her niece and a best interest evaluation, to be completed within 90 days, was ordered. The parties ultimately agreed to a joint expert to do the evaluation, That evaluation, which by court order was to be completed in 90 days, took more than a year to complete.
SYSTEMIC ISSUE #1: All custody and best interest evaluations are supposed to take 90 days or so. That almost never happens. Rather, it is not unusual for it to take 6 months or longer to get a report. If it is a joint or court appointed expert, the party who doesn’t like the report has the right to get their own report so add another several months to the process. As in this case, where the mother’s custody with her own child hinged upon this report, the prejudice cannot be quantified.