Drug use during pregnancy is a relatively common problem. Surveys have shown that nearly 6% of pregnant women use illicit drugs during pregnancy. Because drug use during pregnancy can potentially harm a fetus, federal law requires state CPS agencies maintain a protocol for when babies are born with drugs in their system or showing drug withdrawals. New Jersey, however, does not view drug use during pregnancy as constituting child abuse or neglect on its own, unlike other states. Abuse or neglect can only be determined after a child is born.
So, what happens when a mother tests positive for drugs during pregnancy? The DCP&P cannot make any determinations until the child is born, at which point it will assess whether the child suffered any actual harm as a result of the mother’s drug use. If hospital workers or clinic workers who received the test results feel the child could suffer harm, they may notify the DCP&P. The DCP&P will most likely conduct an investigation involving a review of the child’s health records once born, a substance abuse evaluation of the mother, and an evaluation of the child’s home environment among other methods. While the mother is still pregnant, however, she may receive counseling on the effects of drug use. Drug use during pregnancy may also disqualify a mother from certain assistance programs if she is receiving assisted drug treatment or medical care. These actions are separate from what the DCP&P will do, which is only concerned with the safety of the child.
If you tested positive for drug use during pregnancy and are worried about what will happen, you should speak with an attorney. An experienced New Jersey child abuse defense attorney can explain what will happen in the investigation and explain the laws that apply to your case. An attorney can also help you take steps to minimize the effect of DCP&P involvement, such as going through drug treatment. Lastly, an attorney can inform you of your rights and help you protect them.
Are you worried about what CPS will do? If so, Williams Law Group, LLC can help. Our skilled attorneys can advise you of your rights and help you defend yourself against the DCP&P. 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.