In child welfare cases, the fact-finding hearing is one of the most pivotal hearings you will have. A fact-finding hearing is “a hearing to determine whether the child is an abused or neglected child as defined herein.” The judge will make the determination after hearing from both sides. The resulting determination will influence what happens next in your case and whether your name will be added to the child abuse registry.
In a fact-finding hearing, the court will review the relevant facts surrounding the allegations against the parent. The court will hear from both the DCP&P (New Jersey’s child welfare agency) and the parent. The parent has a right to legal representation and should consult with an attorney before speaking at the hearing. It’s crucial to have your say, but you should work with an attorney to make sure what you say will work to your advantage. You will also have the chance to present evidence to disprove the allegations and challenge evidence the DCP&P provides. Evidence can include photographs, oral or written testimony or interviews, documents, and records.
Once the court reviews the relevant facts and hears both arguments, the judge will make a determination on whether the child was abused or neglected. The DCP&P bears the burden of proving that fact, however, making the fact-finding hearing a key point of strategy in your case. Now is your chance to fight to clear your name, but you will need to have a well-crafted statement and present compelling evidence to do so.
You should never go to a fact-finding hearing without preparing first. The fact-finding hearing is an opportunity to question the argument against you, tell your side of the story, and present evidence and testimony to clear your name. Accordingly, you should approach it with a plan, and an experienced New Jersey child welfare attorney can help you with that. An attorney can explain what will happen at the hearing, help you craft a strategic argument, and gather evidence and testimony to present in court. Your attorney can also help you get copies of the DCP&P’s evidence, so you have time to review it and stage a plan of attack.
If you have a hearing coming up, the Williams Law Group, LLC is here to help. Our skilled attorneys can defend your rights and prepare you for court. 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.