Commonalities in Cases
Every family is unique. Likewise, every child abuse case involves different factors. But there are three crucial elements found in many child abuse cases. Understanding those common elements can help you navigate your child abuse case, so let’s take a look.
Child’s Best Interests
While reading through your case documents, you might come across this phrase. A child’s best interests are so critical in child abuse cases, they are used as a legal standard or a measuring stick with which to consider different options. For example, the judge may consider a child’s best interests when deciding whether to terminate parental rights. Child abuse cases revolve around securing and protecting the well-being of children. Little else matters unless it directly affects the child’s best interests. Thus, some parents are dismayed when a judge makes a decision without considering the parent’s wishes. In reality, the judge chiefly considers what is best for the child before anything else.
Most child abuse cases involve some measurement of risk. Caseworkers evaluate the risk of harm to the child in the home when making placement decisions. They evaluate the nature and extent of that risk. And they even go so far as to gauge whether the parent can mitigate that risk. If all signs point to no, caseworkers might remove the child. And if caseworkers believe the parent can reduce the risk of harm, they will connect those parents with services they feel will help, such as childcare or family therapy. Risk is an important element to be aware of because some critical decisions are made only after considering risk. If you think of your case in terms of what risk your child faces, and not what has already happened, you can see why caseworkers often make hasty decisions. They want to remove the risk the child faces, and sometimes the easiest way to do that is to remove the child from the home altogether.
A parent’s ability to be resilient in the face of stressors is a huge factor in many child abuse cases. Caseworkers pay close attention to a parent’s or a family’s resiliency, or their ability to overcome and cope with challenges. But many factors can affect a parent’s resiliency. A large percentage of child abuse cases involve substance abuse issues and/or parental mental health problems. These can be direct impediments to parental resiliency. New Jersey’s CPS agency, operated by the DCPP (formerly the DYFS), often tries to connect parents struggling with these issues with services, such as treatment and counseling. But building resiliency doesn’t happen overnight. Nor does it happen without significant effort on the part of the parent. Unfortunately, given DCPP protocol, parents don’t always have sufficient time to work through issues and build resiliency before it’s too late.
Focus on These Factors
These elements, collectively, highlight the most important issues at stake in child abuse cases. A child abuse case may involve dozens of more factors, but judges will ask these questions before making decisions:
- What is in the child’s best interests?
- What risk does the child face? and
- Does the parent have resiliency skills?
If you are facing a DCPP investigation, you should arm yourself with this knowledge. Knowing what the most important elements are in your case can help you make informed decisions about how to protect your family. It can also make your relationship with your attorney more productive. Focusing on your child’s best interests, eliminating the risks he or she faces, and building resiliency are the best things you can do during this difficult time. An experienced New Jersey child abuse defense attorney can help you do all three, and, most importantly, do so in a way that strengthens your case. If you are under investigation for child abuse, the Williams Law Group, LLC is here to help. The experienced child abuse defense attorneys at Williams Law Group, LLC can help you defend yourself. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.