The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled this week that authorities can seek custody of a child, even where there's no evidence of abuse or neglect.
The case involved a divorced Camden County mother of 9-year-old twin girls. In 2007, she asked New Jersey's Division of Child Protection and Permanency for help, claiming she was unable to care for the girls who had psychological and developmental disabilities and needed to be placed in residential care.
"You can turn to the Division for help, but it may come with a cost," says Diana Autin, executive director of Statewide Parent Advocacy Network of New Jersey. The group filed an amicus brief in the case.
Autin says under the court's ruling, the state can get custody of a child with behavior problems if it proves that the parent can't provide the type of services the child needs and the services are in the child's best interest. She says the division can get custody without using the state's abuse and neglect law.