Disagreeing With a Higher Power: The Family Court
Many CPS cases do not involve the family court. In fact, CPS will only commence litigation if it has removed your child, decided your child should be removed, or if you are uncooperative. In all other cases, CPS works with families to resolve the matter privately. The family court judge—there are no juries—hears these cases to decide if CPS should take your child and under what circumstances CPS should return your child. The court can also order certain services. The judge does not determine if you are “guilty” of child abuse or neglect. The family court only steps in to ensure your child is safe and hold CPS accountable for its actions. It is not uncommon for parents to disagree with the family court judge’s decisions. CPS can also disagree as well.
Even if the judge orders CPS to return your child, CPS could still decide your child is at risk in the home. You may still be asked to follow a safety plan and accept services like substance abuse treatment or parenting skills classes. If you refuse to follow the safety plan and address the risks your child faces or accept the services CPS offers, CPS could then involve the family court again. In this respect, the family court can support CPS’s decisions. The court does not, however, take over your case or serve the same purpose as CPS. They are separate entities. In fact, CPS is represented by its own attorney, just like you and your child are. Litigation is adversarial, and it is you against CPS, not you against the court.
If You Disagree
The Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P)—formerly DYFS—operates New Jersey’s CPS agency. Again, the DCP&P can still ask you to sign and follow a voluntary safety plan even if your child is returned to you. If DCP&P caseworkers ask you to agree to a safety plan, it may be time to speak with an attorney. An experienced New Jersey child abuse defense attorney will know what an appropriate safety plan looks like and can negotiate with the DCP&P if your safety plan includes unreasonable or unnecessary steps. In some cases, an attorney can even keep your case out of court by working with the DCP&P to help you address the safety risks your child faces without drawing in the family court.
Are you involved in child abuse litigation? If so, Williams Law Group, LLC can help. Our skilled attorneys can help you navigate the litigation process from start to finish. 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.