The Right to Protect
New Jersey’s child welfare agency holds certain rights and responsibilities when it comes to the protection and safety of children. Once a report of abuse or neglect is made, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) will investigate the claim to determine whether the child or children at issue are safe. If caseworkers on the investigation have reason to believe a child is in imminent danger in the home, they can remove the child without giving the parents notice. Though this may seem like this gives the DCP&P too much authority, a removal doesn’t necessarily mean your child will never be returned or that your parental rights will be terminated.
The DCP&P can take your child from the home without a Court Order if he or she is in immediate or imminent danger and protective measures must be taken immediately. This kind of action is reserved for emergency situations only. In these rare cases, known as Dodd removals, caseworkers can take your child from the home without obtaining the court’s permission first if immediate action is necessary to protect your child from harm. For example, this may be necessary if the child has been seriously physically injured or near death, severely neglected, or sexually abused. In most other cases, the DCP&P will get a court order if it wants to take your child from the home. But in most child welfare investigations, the child is able to remain in the home.
Keeping the Child Safe in the Home
The DCP&P works with parents to create Safety and Protection Plans that address the risks the child faces in the home. If the parent agrees to the plan and adheres to it, the child can stay with the parent. If the parent does not follow the plan or if the child is in such danger that a plan cannot keep the child safe, caseworkers can take the child without the parent’s permission. Even in these cases, the DCP&P states its goal is to return the child to the home. What happens after your child is taken from you, however, is uncertain. You will need a skilled New Jersey child welfare attorney to help you navigate the child welfare case process. Without this guidance, it will be more difficult to take the steps necessary to have your child returned to you as soon as possible.
Having the DCP&P take your child from you is scary, but the knowledgeable attorneys at the Williams Law Group, LLC have the experience needed to defend both your rights as a parent and your child’s safety. 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.