DCPP/DYFS Hearings in Maplewood
New Jersey’s Department of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), formerly known as the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), is responsible for ensuring children are safe and taken care of in their homes. The organization’s employees have the power to enter your home, interview your children, and speak with your neighbors based on an anonymous report.
When DCPP enters your life, you need an aggressive attorney protecting your rights. Contact a local defense lawyer immediately if you face a DCPP/DYFS hearing in Maplewood. Our compassionate DCPP/DYFS attorneys could help you obtain a positive case result based on your situation.
What are DCPP/DYFS Hearings?
All DCPP/DYFS hearings focus on a child’s best interest. A lawyer for the New Jersey State Attorney General’s Office will represent DCPP, and the court will appoint a Law Guardian to represent a child.
Hearing to Establish Temporary Custody
If DCPP removes a child from their home, the court will hold an Emergent DODD Hearing within 48 hours to evaluate whether the adolescent is at risk of abuse or neglect. If evidence of abuse exists, the court will award temporary custody of the child to a family member or a resource family.
An Adjudication Hearing—called a fact-finding hearing—is a trial where the Division must prove that a parent or guardian abused or neglected a child. If DCPP makes a finding of “established” or “substantiated” against a parent or guardian, a Fact- Hearing will occur. The purpose of this hearing is to present evidence regarding whether DCPP has sufficient proof of abuse or neglect to merit further involvement.
DCPP, a child’s Law Guardian, and the parents can present evidence and testimony at the Fact-Finding Hearing. The court may choose to dismiss the case if DCPP does not prove by a preponderance of the evidence that abuse or neglect occurred or that the family is in need of intervention. However, if the court finds sufficient evidence of abuse and neglect, a Dispositional Hearing will take place immediately after the Fact-Finding hearing.
At a Dispositional Hearing, a judge will determine the steps a parent or caregiver must take to regain custody of their child or end DCPP supervision. DCPP and the Law Guardian often make recommendations to mothers and fathers, including encouraging them to attend parenting courses, anger-management training, domestic violence prevention classes, addiction counseling or rehabilitation, and/or therapy.
If a judge orders parents to take part in specific classes or training, it is critical for the parent to do their best to fulfill the judge’s ruling. The court will hold periodic Compliance Review Hearings to assess the parents’ progress toward complying with these orders and decide whether DCPP/DYFS should remain involved. If the case has been ongoing for at least a year, the court must hold a permanency hearing.
At a Permanency Hearing, DCPP will file a plan for the permanent placement of a child. A Law Guardian will also submit a report containing their opinion about the result that serves a child’s best interest. The permanency hearing is the last chance for parents to prove that they can offer their children a safe, stable home or present an alternative arrangement, such as placement with a relative. If the judge rules against the parents, DCPP could file a case to terminate their legal rights. Caregivers or parents facing DCPP/DYFS should have legal representation from a dedicated attorney in Maplewood.
Terminating Parental Rights in Maplewood
If DCPP does not believe a parent can safely parent their child, New Jersey Statutes Annotated §30:4C-15.1(a) allows the organization to file a Petition to terminate the parent’s rights. If DCPP is successful, the adolescent will be placed for adoption, and the parents will lose all legal rights to their child.
At the Termination of Parental Rights trial, DCPP must prove that terminating the parents’ rights will not harm the children more than it benefits them. DCPP also must demonstrate that the parents:
- Cannot effectively care for their children without risking their health, safety, or development
- Cannot or will not correct the situation that caused the child to be removed, nor provide a safe and stable home
- Were offered services by DCPP to help them remedy the circumstances that led to the child’s removal from the parents’ home
A local attorney with experience litigating against New Jersey DCPP could prove during a hearing that returning a child to their family is in the adolescent’s best interest.
Fight for Your Children with a Seasoned Maplewood DCPP/DYFS Attorney
If DCPP begins an investigation into your parenting, it is crucial to take these allegations seriously. Although the Division’s actions might seem unfair, refusing to cooperate could hurt your chances of retaining custody of your children.
If you are facing DCPP/DYFS hearings in Maplewood, contact our lawyers as quickly as possible. With help from our attorneys at the Williams Law Group, you could preserve your rights and keep your family together.