Know Your Rights
Having your child taken from you can be a terrifying experience. Unfortunately, many parents who are involved in child welfare cases with New Jersey’s child welfare agency (DCP&P) aren’t aware that they have rights they can defend. Knowing and understanding these rights is your first step to ensuring your child isn’t taken from your home without good cause.
What the DCP&P Can Do
The Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) has the authority to take steps to protect the children of New Jersey from abuse and neglect. The child welfare system has struggled in the past with wielding this authority appropriately and effectively protecting every child’s best interests. In its efforts to protect, the DCP&P can make decisions that are not in the best interests of the child. Because of this, it is vitally important you understand just when the DCP&P can legally remove a child from the home.
The DCP&P has the authority to remove a child from the home in severe cases of abuse or neglect if the child is in imminent danger. Case workers can do this even without getting a court order first. If the DCP&P takes your child from you without a court order, it must still get a court order for the removal after the fact. This means there will be a hearing, at which you will have a chance to argue your case and defend your rights. The DCP&P need not have a substantiated finding from a child protection investigation in order to take your child from you.
The DCP&P may also remove your child after the conclusion of an investigation. Before this happens, however, in most instances reasonable efforts must be made to help you make your home a safe place for your child. If you don’t feel the DCP&P made such reasonable efforts, your rights could be violated.
In the majority of child welfare cases, the abuse or neglect is not severe enough to warrant placing the child elsewhere. When abuse or neglect is suspected but the child is not in imminent danger, the DCP&P is required to work with parents to negotiate a safety plan that will keep the child safe in the home. If the parents then do not follow the plan, their child can be removed from the home.
Speak with an experienced New Jersey child welfare attorney if you are worried about your child being taken from you. An attorney can advise you of your rights and help you defend them. An attorney can also help ensure your safety plan is reasonable given the circumstances.
If you have questions about what to do after your child is taken from you, Williams Law Group, LLC can assist you. The skilled attorneys at Williams Law Group, LLC will help you navigate the child welfare case process while defending your rights. 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.