Does Prenatal Use of Illicit Drugs Constitute Unfitness to Parent in NJ
- October 27, 2012
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The New Jersey Supreme Court heard the case of DYFS v. A.L., regarding whether prenatal drug use, specifically cocaine and marijuana, by a mother must result in a finding of unfitness to parent. Both the trial judge and appellate division ruled that the mother’s prenatal use of cocaine resulted in abuse and neglect. The mother’s attorney argued that a showing of harm to the child is required in order for the court to reach a determination of unfitness to parent. The State argued that prenatal use of drugs in the face of existing evidence of harm to children resulting from prenatal drug use is enough for a finding of unfitness to parent. A question raised by Justice Anne Patterson was also whether a pregnant woman legally taking prescription drugs, in spite of notice of potential danger to the child, could also be guilty of abuse and neglect. The State clarified that in the event there is harm to the child from a mother’s use of prescription drugs, the mother’s rights are protected. If you or your children’s other parent are seeking a modification of custody, you should consult an experienced family law attorney immediately in order to protect your rights. For more information on DYFS,custody, divorce, dissolution of civil union or domestic partnership, alimony, child support or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney regarding your specific matter.