|3B:12A-6 Considerations for appointment as kinship legal guardian.|
6. a. In making its determination about whether to appoint the caregiver as kinship legal guardian, the court shall consider:
(1)if proper notice was provided to the childs parents;
(2)the best interests of the child;
(3)the kinship caregiver assessment;
(4)in cases in which the division is involved with the child as provided in subsection a. of section 8 of P.L.2001, c.250 (C.30:4C-85), the recommendation of the division, including any parenting time or visitation restrictions;
(5)the potential kinship legal guardians ability to provide a safe and permanent home for the child;
(6)the wishes of the childs parents, if known to the court;
(7)the wishes of the child if the child is 12 years of age or older, unless unique circumstances exist that make the childs age irrelevant;
(8)the suitability of the kinship caregiver and the caregivers family to raise the child;
(9)the ability of the kinship caregiver to assume full legal responsibility for the child;
(10) the commitment of the kinship caregiver and the caregivers family to raise the child to adulthood;
(11) the results from the child abuse record check conducted pursuant to section 9 of P.L.2001, c.250 (C.30:4C-86); and
(12) the results from the criminal history record background check and domestic violence check conducted pursuant to section 9 of P.L.2001, c.250 (C.30:4C-86). In any case in which the caregiver petitioning for kinship legal guardianship, or any adult residing in the prospective caregivers home, has a record of criminal history or a record of being subjected to a final domestic violence restraining order under P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-17 et seq.), the court shall review the record with respect to the type and date of the criminal offense or the provisions and date of the final domestic violence restraining order and make a determination as to the suitability of the person to become a kinship legal guardian. For the purposes of this paragraph, with respect to criminal history, the court shall consider convictions for offenses specified in subsections c., d. and e. of section 1 of P.L.1985, c.396 (C.30:4C-26.8).
b.The court shall not award kinship legal guardianship of the child unless proper notice was served upon the parents of the child and any other party to whom the court has awarded custody or parenting time for that child, in accordance with the Rules of Court.
c.The court shall not award kinship legal guardianship of the child solely because of parental incapacity.
d.The court shall appoint the caregiver as a kinship legal guardian if, based upon clear and convincing evidence, the court finds that:
(1)each parents incapacity is of such a serious nature as to demonstrate that the parents are unable, unavailable or unwilling to perform the regular and expected functions of care and support of the child;
(2)the parents inability to perform those functions is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future;
(3)in cases in which the division is involved with the child as provided in subsection a. of section 8 of P.L.2001, c.250 (C.30:4C-85), (a) the division exercised reasonable efforts to reunify the child with the birth parents and these reunification efforts have proven unsuccessful or unnecessary; and (b) adoption of the child is neither feasible nor likely; and
(4)awarding kinship legal guardianship is in the childs best interests.
e.The court order appointing the kinship legal guardian shall specify, as appropriate, that:
(1)a kinship legal guardian shall have the same rights, responsibilities and authority relating to the child as a birth parent, including, but not limited to: making decisions concerning the childs care and well-being; consenting to routine and emergency medical and mental health needs; arranging and consenting to educational plans for the child; applying for financial assistance and social services for which the child is eligible; applying for a motor vehicle operators license; applying for admission to college; responsibility for activities necessary to ensure the childs safety, permanency and well-being; and ensuring the maintenance and protection of the child; except that a kinship legal guardian may not consent to the adoption of the child or a name change for the child;
(2)the birth parent of the child retains the authority to consent to the adoption of the child or a name change for the child;
(3)the birth parent of the child retains the obligation to pay child support;
(4)the birth parent of the child retains the right to visitation or parenting time with the child, as determined by the court;
(5)the appointment of a kinship legal guardian does not limit or terminate any rights or benefits derived from the childs parents, including, but not limited to, those relating to inheritance or eligibility for benefits or insurance; and
(6)kinship legal guardianship terminates when the child reaches 18 years of age or when the child is no longer continuously enrolled in a secondary education program, whichever event occurs later, or when kinship legal guardianship is otherwise terminated.
f.An order or judgment awarding kinship legal guardianship may be vacated by the court prior to the childs 18th birthday if the court finds that the kinship legal guardianship is no longer in the best interests of the child or, in cases where there is an application to return the child to the parent, based upon clear and convincing evidence, the court finds that the parental incapacity or inability to care for the child that led to the original award of kinship legal guardianship is no longer the case and termination of kinship legal guardianship is in the childs best interests.
In cases in which the division was involved, when determining whether a child should be returned to a parent, the court may refer a parent for an assessment prepared by the division, in accordance with regulations adopted by the commissioner.
g.An order or judgment awarding kinship legal guardianship may be vacated by the court if, based upon clear and convincing evidence, the court finds that the guardian failed or is unable, unavailable or unwilling to provide proper care and custody of the child, or that the guardianship is no longer in the childs best interests.