The Right to Make Decisions
As a parent, you have the right to make decisions regarding the care and custody of your child, including where your child will live. This right cannot be violated or revoked without good cause and proper legal procedure and is protected under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The United States Supreme Court has recognized that a parent’s right to raise their child in their home and make decisions regarding him or her is one of the most important and sacred of rights. But state child welfare agencies have the authority to take away this right if you have abused, neglected, or put your child at serious risk of harm. Even before a conclusive finding has been issued after a full investigation, your child can be taken away from you. This begs the question of whether familial integrity and privacy is truly a protected right if parents can be separated from their children by court order even before substantiated findings of abuse or neglect has been made.
The Right to Due Process
While New Jersey’s child welfare agency can remove your child from your home if caseworkers have reason to believe your child is at immediate risk of harm, you can demand due process before any final decisions are made. The Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) must immediately seek a court order if caseworkers remove your child from the home. You have a right to be notified of and speak at the hearing where the court will make its decision. If the court issues an order authorizing the removal of your child, the DCP&P must conduct a thorough investigation and find that the abuse or neglect allegation is substantiated before discussing placing your child permanently with another family. You also have a right to disagree with and appeal any decisions the DCP&P makes. These are valuable rights you should exercise.
Consider working with an experienced New Jersey child welfare attorney if you are under investigation for child abuse or neglect. You do have rights as a parent, but caseworkers may lead you to believe otherwise. An attorney can advise you of those rights and help you exercise and defend them during the investigation. For example, you have a right to visit with your child if he or she has been removed from your home and stay involved in making decisions regarding their care. You also have a right to have your child promptly returned to you if the abuse or neglect allegation is not substantiated.
Do you have questions about your rights as a parent? Williams Law Group, LLC can advise you of your rights and help you navigate the child welfare case process with confidence. 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 connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.