When the Findings Are Wrong
Findings are the outcome of child protection investigations. These findings help the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) know what to do to protect a child and help the court put those protections in place. Not all findings are valid, however, and it is not uncommon for parents to disagree with the findings from their investigation. While the DCP&P has every child’s best interests in mind, no system is fail proof, especially when it comes to knowing what really goes on in a household. Fortunately, you do have the right to appeal findings from a child protection investigation. Before you do so, here is what you should know:
You can request an administrative appeal of only one kind of decision the DCP&P makes, specifically the decision to categorize the findings as substantiated. All other decisions made by DCP&P can be appealed, however, findings that are not substantiated cannot be appealed in the same way substantiated findings can be appealed. For instance, if the agency finding is “Established” or “Not Established”, you can still appeal those findings, but only by filing a formal brief with the Appellate Division.
You must request an administrative appeal hearing within 20 days of receiving the written notice of Substantiated findings from the investigation, and you must make your request in writing. For “Established” or “Not Established” findings, you must file your Notice of Appeal with the Appellate Division within 45 days of the date of the administrative finding.
The hearing will be in front of an administrative law judge, but will be conducted as many hearings are. You will have a chance to argue your case and present evidence that may support your argument or claim.
If you prevail at your administrative hearing, and the decision is changed to a different category, e.g. unfounded, that change will be recorded and copies of the decision will be distributed to all interested parties. These can include other parties to the case, law enforcement, or facility administrators.
The right to appeal substantiated findings from an investigation is an important one. Parents may not realize how the DCP&P can make uninformed decisions, and those decisions can tear families apart. If you do not agree with the findings of your child protection investigation, speak with an experienced New Jersey child welfare attorney right away. You only have 20 days in which to request an administrative hearing. An attorney can help you make the request and prepare you for the appeal process.
Are you involved in a child welfare case? If so, Williams Law Group, LLC can help you with your case and defend your rights. We can ensure your child has an advocate who can represent his or her best wishes. Located in Union, 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.