Family Courts: Child Abuse, Kinship, and Adoption

Information on adoption, children-in-court matters, and kinship/legal guardianship. 

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Child Abuse and Neglect

The Division of Child Protection and Permanency (CP&P) must investigate all reports of child abuse and neglect. If CP&P determines that a child has been or is currently in danger of being harmed, CP&P will file a complaint against the parent(s) or caregiver(s) with the family court.

Family cases involving CP&P are also known as Children in Court (CIC) cases. Learn more about Children in Court (CIC) Cases.

You have a right to be represented by an attorney in this case type.

If you cannot afford an attorney, you might qualify for a public defender. You can provide financial information about yourself to determine if you are eligible for a public defender. Court staff will contact you to tell you if a public defender will be assigned to represent you. If you have questions about the process, contact your local court ombudsman.

Kinship Legal Guardianship

A Relative or Other Person Becoming Long-Term Legal Guardian for a Child.

A kinship legal guardian is a relative, close family friend, or other adult who is appointed by the court to raise a child when the parents are unable to do so. Kinship legal guardianship (KLG) does not terminate parents’ rights. This means that parents can still seek visitation, and they are still financially responsible for the child. 

If you are interested in becoming a kinship legal guardian to a child in your care, a Kinship Navigator Program can assist you. 

KLG Through CP&P Involvement.

If CP&P has been involved with a family, CP&P can file for KLG on behalf of a caregiver. 

Termination of Parental Rights

If CP&P determines that a child cannot be safely returned to a parent, CP&P can file a complaint to terminate parental rights. 

You have a right to be represented by an attorney in this case type.

If you cannot afford an attorney, you might qualify for a public defender. You can provide financial information about yourself to determine if you are eligible for a public defender. Court staff will contact you to tell you if a public defender will be assigned to represent you. If you have questions about the process, contact your local court ombudsman. Learn more about Children in Court (CIC) Cases.

You can appeal a termination of parental rights. 

If the court terminates your parental rights, you have 21 days to file an appeal. To appeal, you must submit the following to the Appellate Division of Superior Court:

  1. A completed notice of appeal with the court.
  2. transcript request.
  3. A copy of the family court order being appealed.

All paperwork should be mailed to:

Appellate - Administrative Office of the Courts
Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex
P.O. Box 006
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0970

See the Appellate Division web page for more information.

Adoption

To adopt a child, contact your county Surrogate's Office for information.

Contesting an adoption. 

If you receive a notice of an adoption that will affect your parental rights to a child, the notice will include information on your rights and next steps.

If an adoption agency placed the child for adoption, you would receive an agency placement form to complete and return to the county surrogate's office. If a private person placed the child for adoption, you would receive a non-agency placement form to complete and return to the county surrogate's office. These forms contain information on what to do if you want to contest an adoption. They also have information on how to find an attorney to represent you.

If you have questions about the forms or the process, contact your local court ombudsman.

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