Off the Public Record
Records of child welfare investigations including child abuse reports, reports of findings and information obtained during child abuse investigations are imperative. They can be used in cases involving action taken against parental rights or in cases involving the placement of a child in foster care. These records are kept highly confidential to protect the privacy rights of the child and the child’s parent, guardian or caretaker. Child abuse records are not part of the public record but may be disclosed to the public under rare circumstances concerning the death or near-death of a child. In other cases, child abuse case records can only be accessed by those who have a legitimate interest in the case record and a need for the information there. Case records will never, however, be disclosed when said disclosure would threaten the life, health, and safety or well being of the child in question.
Even though they are kept confidential, parents and their attorneys can request copies of the case record if they are directly involved in a matter with the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P), such as engaged in litigation. Records from child welfare investigations can be helpful in other cases as well, such as those involving contested custody. In these cases, however, the statute is less clear on whether a parent may access child abuse case records if he or she is no longer directly involved in a DCP&P matter.
Nevertheless, such records can be of considerable importance when the custody of a child is at stake. In general, parents can gain access to case records under certain circumstances. But the parent must have good cause for needing the records. For example, a parent may be granted access to child welfare case records if the other parent is seeking custody but was previously under investigation for child abuse. Without these essential records, the non-offending parent may not get the custody award they seek, and, in the end, this could be of detriment to the child.
Speak with an experienced New Jersey child welfare attorney if you need access to child welfare case records for a custody action or similar matter. A skilled child welfare attorney can help you present a compelling argument for why you should be allowed access and help you get copies of the complete record of your case so you can have all the facts at hand.
If you have questions about child welfare case records, the Williams Law Group, LLC is here to help. The experienced attorneys at Williams Law Group, LLC can help gain access to important records so you don’t stay in the dark. Located in Union, 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.