Making Placement Decisions: A Look at Dispositional Hearings
A Decision-Making Hearing
Whenever New Jersey’s child protective services agency (the DCP&P) places a child in foster placement, it must file a complaint with the court. This commences the litigation process. During this process, you may have several hearings that require your appearance in court. Many hearings are held to review and establish facts or seek orders or a decision from the judge. One of the most important of these is the dispositional hearing. As a parent, it’s vital to understand what happens at a dispositional hearing because of the potential outcome of the judge’s decision.
In a dispositional hearing, the judge decides on the placement of the child. Dispositional hearings follow fact-finding hearings wherein the relevant facts of the case are presented and reviewed. The outcome of a dispositional hearing is a decision on whether the child should remain in foster placement, return to his or her parents, live with other family members, or be placed in an alternative living arrangement. The judge may also decide to order more services for the parents to fix unaddressed problems. Future hearings to review the placement will also be held.
Before the judge can decide at the dispositional hearing, it must be established whether the child was abused or neglected. The fact-finding hearing serves this purpose. At the fact-finding hearing, the judge decides whether the allegations against the parent are true by reviewing the evidence submitted by both parties. The dispositional hearing is held after the fact-finding hearing, so there is time to consider how to best place the child based on the outcome of the fact-finding hearing. You are entitled to both a fact-finding hearing and a dispositional hearing when facing child abuse allegations.
Every hearing has a purpose, some more pertinent to the parent than others. At the dispositional hearing, a judge will decide what will happen to your child. For this very important reason, you should consult with a knowledgeable New Jersey child abuse defense attorney if you have a dispositional or fact-finding hearing coming up. These are high-stakes proceedings, so you should make every effort to be prepared before you appear in court. An experienced attorney can prepare you for your hearings, explain what will happen, and help you do what you can to ensure your rights are protected, and you stay involved.
Are you involved in child welfare litigation? 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 [email protected], 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.