When a child welfare caseworker or another representative from CPS arrives at your door, what do you do? Do you have to let them in? What are your rights? My firm fields these types of questions often. Parents often feel like their rights have been violated when a child welfare caseworker shows up unannounced. Unfortunately, it’s happened to many parents who then had to call me for guidance.
Dealing with unannounced visits from child welfare caseworkers is easier when you know your rights and the rights and authorities of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P), New Jersey’s child welfare agency. The DCP&P have a right to visit unannounced and ask to be let in. If the parent then refuses entry, the DCP&P can look to law enforcement or the court to enforce their right so that they could come back and execute a forceful entry. DCP&P caseworkers also have the right to remove your child from the home if they believe your child is at imminent risk of serious harm. You have rights, too. You have a right to know why your child is being taken from you, where he or she is going, and what services he or she will be provided with. You also have the right to connect caseworkers with family members or close friends who could take care of your child temporarily. You always have the right to disagree with the caseworkers’ decision to remove your child, but, again, they may have the authority to take your child regardless. And you have the right to know what is to be expected of you and, of course, to speak with an attorney.
If child welfare caseworkers pay you an unannounced visit, you can ask them to come back at a better time. Caseworkers have rights and authorities that may override yours. The DCP&P can get a court order that will grant them the legal right to enter your home and even take your child. Thus, refusing to cooperate during an unannounced visit might not always work to your advantage. The best way to be prepared for unannounced visits is to speak with an experienced New Jersey child welfare attorney as soon as you receive notice from the DCP&P. Consulting with an attorney should be your first step after your child is removed. An attorney can explain what will happen next in your case and advise you of your rights and how you can exercise them.
Visits with the DCP&P can be stressful, but the knowledgeable attorneys at the Williams Law Group, LLC have the experience needed to defend your rights as a parent and protect your child’s best interests. 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.