After the Division’s case has been made, if the court finds that you didn’t commit the alleged acts – or that you have addressed the underlying issue or issues that prompted the involvement of DCP&P – you can have a hearing to determine what will happened regarding custody.
Depending on whether the caseworker likes you — which is often in part determined by what you stand accused of doing (or not doing) — he or she may help or hinder you with this process. In order for the Court to return your child to you, you must have addressed the issues raised in the Division’s Complaint.
The Next Steps
DCP&P hearings and trials are confidential, in general. However, the court has the discretion to open up the hearings to allow, for instance, the parent to be surrounded and supported by loved ones and friends.
Once this first part of the process is over — and hopefully, the child is either back in your custody or in the custody of the other parent or a friend or family member — the court has to conduct something called a “Case Management Conference”.
A Title 9 trial — known also as a fact finding hearing — commences within four to six months. You and your attorney should read over the Title 9 statute with a fine-toothed comb to determine whether the allegations against you meet the statute’s definition of abuse or neglect discussed as earlier. Together with your attorney, go through all the facts set out in the Division’s complaint against you, line by line. You want to try to look for inaccuracies, distortions or anything else that could discredit the investigation. What’s not true? What kind of evidence can you muster to bust the state’s case? Be systematic, and work with your attorney to figure out a plan.
In some cases, you may need to act relatively rapidly to preserve and protect evidence that might exonerate you. For instance, on the day of the alleged abuse, you might have been on a business trip far away from your child. If you can produce evidence that you were, for instance, in Albuquerque rather than in New Jersey on the day the abuse happened (e.g. plane tickets, hotel stubs, etc) that would obviously devastate the state’s case.
You and your attorney also should determine whether the Division’s investigation was sufficient.
For skillful, experienced assistance battling back against untrue allegations of child abuse or neglect, call the Williams Law Group, LLC immediately at (908) 810-1083.