Exploring the Alternatives
When the DCPP, New Jersey’s CPS agency, files a parental rights termination action, it presumes it is in the child’s best interests. This isn’t always the case, and even if terminating parental rights is in the best interests of the child, litigating the matter may not be the best option. In many cases, termination of parental rights mediation can be an opportune forum in which parents and the DCPP can work together to find the best solution.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that helps people resolve conflict without involving the court. It is often preferable in family law cases as parents often can make the best decision for their children. Termination of parental rights mediation can be helpful in finding a solution that is best for the child, as there may be preferable alternatives to traditional litigation. Termination of parental rights mediation can also give the parent and his or her attorney the chance to explore whether terminating parental rights is necessary.
When Mediation Is Helpful
Before terminating parental rights, the DCPP must prove several elements, including:
- You harmed your child and can’t or are unwilling to stop the harm or the risk of harm to your child
- Your child is being harmed by not being in a permanent home
- The DCPP has made reasonable efforts to keep your family together and helped you visit your child
- Terminating your parental rights would benefit your child more than it would harm him or her, and
- There are no reasonable alternatives to terminating your parental rights
In mediation, you can explore reasonable alternatives to having the court terminate your parental rights, including granting custody to a relative or friend or kinship legal guardianship. But it is not uncommon for DCPP to suggest that you voluntarily surrender your parental rights. This can shorten the amount of time your case is in litigation and “make it easier” for all parties involved.
But a word of caution: DCPP might say you don’t need an attorney for mediation when, in fact, you should have legal representation during mediation and in court. You have a right to an attorney when facing parental rights termination, and failing to exercise that right is akin to giving up. Don’t give up hope, even if DCPP is threatening your parental rights. An experienced New Jersey parental rights termination attorney can help you make an informed decision on how to handle your case. And in many cases, the benefits of termination of parental rights mediation are well worth the time, as it provides a chance to explore alternatives in a non-adversarial setting.
If your parental rights are being threatened in New Jersey, the Williams Law Group, LLC is here to help. The experienced DCPP defense attorneys at Williams Law Group, LLC can help you defend yourself and explore all reasonable alternatives to parental rights termination. Located in Short Hills, 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.