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If you are a parent under investigation by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), or if you have had your child removed from your care during an ongoing case, you may have many questions and worries. In any scenario, it is in your best interests to seek legal advice on how to navigate these difficult times. A knowledgeable attorney at the Williams Law Group could address the following common concerns in Short Hills DCPP investigations and further explain any legal nuances related to your circumstances.
In order to terminate parental rights, the Division must prove four things:
Essentially, it must be in the best interest of your child that you no longer have any parental rights for those rights to be terminated.
DCPP has very broad discretion to remove children where they find that there is an imminent risk of harm, even if the actual harm has not yet materialized. So, if the Division encounters a child that they believe is in danger of being harmed by the conduct of a parent, they can initiate a removal.
Furthermore, if DCPP does not find the imminent risk of harm but is concerned, they can ask a court to remove your child based upon the likelihood of substantial risk of harm in your household. As such, any parent facing the removal of their child by DCPP should immediately address their concerns with an experienced lawyer.
If your child goes to the hospital with fractures and there is no known cause, accidental trauma, or medical issue that you are aware of, there is going to be a call to Child Protective Services. The question that will be presented is not whether you caused the fractures, but who caused the fractures.
After DCPP comes in with an expert report, the burden will then shift to you to prove that you were not the person responsible for the fractures. This can be established in various ways, depending on the situation. For example, medical evidence might show that the child was fragile and thus likely to fracture no matter what was done to them. Alternatively, a parent could demonstrate that someone else caused the fractures, such as a childcare provider or daycare employee.
Generally, if you resolve the issues that led DCPP to remove your child, you are entitled to a hearing at the end of the case to have your child returned to you. This is true whether the child was placed with the other parent or in foster care.
However, if the previous noncustodial parent has sought custody in the interim of the DCPP case, you may or may not be entitled to have the child returned to you at the end of the proceedings. Ultimately, the court must determine what is best for the child. If the child has been in placement with the previous noncustodial parent for a lengthy period of time, the court may choose to keep the child there, expand visitation, or come up with some alternate custody arrangement.
Dealing with an ongoing Child Protective Services case can be a stressful experience. Discussing common concerns in Short Hills DCPP investigations with a seasoned attorney could put you in a better position to successfully navigate the proceedings. To protect your relationship with your child, contact our firm today and consult with a member of our team.