As your Title 9 case progresses, the division may ask the court to ask to compel you to accept certain “services,” ostensibly to help you, psychologically and otherwise. This offer can be quite the Trojan Horse, however. First of all, unless the court finds that you did engage in abusive or neglectful acts, it can’t “order services” for you, unless you consent. However, the court can order services for your child, such as counseling. This therapy is supposed to be confidential, but the reality is that this confidentiality is routinely violated. The division can take things that your child said or did during these counseling sessions and use them against you during the proceedings. That may sound nefarious and unfair, but that frequently happens.
Even if you’re completely innocent — you didn’t abuse or neglect your child or even engage in acts that verged on bad behavior — this counseling process can cause problems. For instance, what if the therapist asks leading or confusing questions to your child, who accidentally gives answers that paint you in a bad light? There’s a long and sordid history — stretching back to the Salem Witch Trials and no doubt long before that — of children making up stories or exaggerating events under pressure and “guidance” from well-meaning adults.
You may be tempted to start these services because of a deadline created by the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA). Among other things, the ASFA forces the court to hold a permanency hearing after the child has been in placement for one year. Your attorney can ask the court to extend this deadline, based on what’s known as a good cause exception.
The bottom line is this: avoid being bullied into accepting services or letting the division set the tone of the proceedings. An alert, skilled attorney can be a watchdog for every element of the process, so that you’re treated fairly.
For skillful, experienced assistance battling back against untrue allegations of child abuse or neglect, call the Williams Law Group, LLC immediately at (908) 810-1083.