Mitigating Factors in Child Welfare Investigations

Mitigating Factors in Child Welfare InvestigationsThe Factors That Matter

Child welfare investigators are supposed to consider relevant factors in a case before deciding to remove a child or take some other action. Some factors are more significant than others. Mitigating factors are those that help rationalize the actions of the parent or caregiver. While a mitigating factor won’t necessarily close the case, it can affect the outcome of the investigation and thus what CPS decides to do.

Common mitigating factors include:

  • The parent took remedial actions before the investigation concluded.

A parent’s actions during the investigation will be considered, which is why it’s important to be proactive in your case from the beginning.

  • The parent was experiencing extraordinary, situational, or temporary stressors that caused the parent to act in an abusive or neglectful manner.

This is a common mitigating factor. Parenting isn’t easy, and when a parent experiences a hardship such as losing a job or a loved one, the child could be put at risk of harm simply because the parent lacked the resources or support needed to make it through tough times. CPS caseworkers may be able to provide a parent facing hardship with services to help them, but CPS involvement is not an ideal scenario.

  • The abuse or neglect was an isolated or aberrational instance.

We all make mistakes, but when a simple, isolated act prompts a report of child abuse or neglect, those mistakes become much bigger problems. If there are no indicators that the abuse or neglect was prolonged or a pattern, the allegations will be considered in light of this mitigating circumstance.

  • The impact of the harm caused by the abuse or neglect of the child was limited, minor or negligible.

This is another common mitigating circumstance, especially when it comes to discipline.

Mitigating circumstances can sway the outcome of a case. But aggravating circumstances—those that can increase the severity of the allegations—can do so as well. Always consult with an experienced New Jersey child abuse defense attorney when facing child abuse allegations. An attorney can evaluate all the facts and circumstances of your case and help you decide how to respond to the allegations and the outcome of the investigation.

Are you worried about what CPS will do? If so, Williams Law Group can help. Our skilled attorneys can advise you of your rights and help you defend yourself against the DCP&P. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group 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, 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.

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