Dodd hearings are held immediately after the DCP&P makes an emergency removal of a child (called a Dodd removal). State child welfare caseworkers have the authority to remove a child from the home without a court order if they believe the child is in imminent risk of harm, and a safety plan is not a viable option. If the DCP&P conducts an emergency removal, it must then immediately file a complaint and seek court approval within 48 hours of the removal. The hearing at which the DCP&P will seek a court order for the removal is called a Dodd hearing.
Because this all happens in a matter of days, parents rarely have enough time to prepare for the hearing, but, fortunately for them, the purpose of a Dodd hearing is very limited.
At the hearing, two main issues will be addressed: whether the removal was warranted and where the child should be placed. The judge will decide if your child was in imminent risk of harm using the information the DCP&P provides. Next, he or she will determine where your child should go from that point. If the judge decides the emergency removal was unnecessary, your child may be returned to you, but you might have to work with the DCP&P on developing a safety plan. If the judge decides your child cannot return home, he or she will decide where your child should be placed, whether that is with relatives, with a resource family, or a residential facility.
You will not be given a summons before you attend the hearing, so you won’t have a lot of time to prepare. But the DCP&P will provide you with a complaint upon the removal of the child. You need to read the complaint carefully for information about why your child was removed and what you need to do next.
You will have very little time in which to prepare for a Dodd hearing, but remember that only a few issues will be explored. Nevertheless, you should try to speak with an experienced New Jersey child welfare defense attorney before the hearing. An attorney can tell you what to expect and advise you on what you should do and say at the hearing. Though Dodd hearings are limited in their purview, they serve a very important purpose, so you should be as prepared as you can to fight to get your child back.
Do you have an upcoming Dodd hearing? Williams Law Group, LLC can provide you with tenacious legal counsel to ensure you are prepared for your hearing so you can fight to reunify with your child. 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 connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.