Protection From DYFS Actions
1. Hire an attorney immediately
Do not try to figure out the process yourself. Be honest with your lawyer. Make sure that your lawyer knows all the important information that will help your case. Provide your attorney with all paperwork that you have. Stay in touch with your lawyer and be sure to update them on any additional information that you may have.
2. Begin services right away
Unless you have a strong belief that counseling, parenting classes, and other services DYFS recommends are a bad idea for you, you should begin those services as soon as possible. Ask for other services you believe will be helpful. Letters and reports from therapists that say good things about you will help you get your child back. Proof that you have at tended and completed parenting classes or other training should also help.
3. Attend all hearings and appointments
Always be present and on time for court, evaluations, therapy, and other appointments related to this case. If possible, let your employer, teachers, and/or treatment program staff know that you are involved in an important court case, and try to arrange your schedule so that you can attend all scheduled appointments and court dates. If you do miss court or an evaluation you have been ordered to attend, contact your lawyer right away.
Remember that the judge can enter a default against you be cause of your failure to appear in court, and you could lose your chance to present your defense at trial. If you have a good reason for not appearing, your lawyer might be able to undo the default.
4. Attend all visits with your child
Visits are important for your child and will help you and your child maintain your relation ship. Never miss your scheduled visits with your child, and remember to confirm them in advance if you are required to do so.
5. Behave in a calm and polite manner
How you act while your case is going on is important. The judge, DYFS workers, the law guardian, therapists, court staff, CASA volunteers, and others are forming opinions of you that will affect the decisions in your case. Be cooperative and respectful. Otherwise, you may hurt your chances of getting your child back.
6. Show that you can provide a safe, stable home for your child
Do the best you can to show that you can meet your child’s need for safety and stability. Employment and acceptable housing are signs of stability. So is a good support system, a network of reliable, stable friends and relatives you can call on when you need help. Avoid relationships with people who are or have been involved with crime, child abuse, substance abuse, or any kind of violence.
New Jersey Child Abuse Registry
If the judge concludes that you abused or neglected your child, your name will be permanently placed on the New Jersey Child Abuse Registry (sometimes called “the central registry”). Even if your child is returned to you, your name will remain on the registry. Being on this registry will prevent you from getting or keeping certain jobs working with children and with disabled or elderly adults. It may also prevent you or others in your household from becoming foster or adoptive parents or caring for relative children. Also, DYFS is required to disclose the names of the people on the registry to police and certain other agencies.
Your name will be placed on the New Jersey Child Abuse Registry when DYFS concludes its investigation with a determination that you abused or neglected your child. If the judge concludes at the end of a hearing that there was no abuse or neglect, DYFS will remove your name from the registry. If DYFS finds abuse or neglect against you but does not bring a court case, you must use the administrative procedure described in Section 4 to have your name removed from the registry.
DYFS – Order to Show Cause
DYFS will begin the child abuse or neglect case against you by filing court papers called an Order to Show Cause and a Complaint. You should appear at the filing of the Order to Show Cause and Complaint. If you do not appear, DYFS will provide you with a copy of the court papers. An Order to Show Cause is a special court order that tells you to appear in court on a specific date for the judge to consider your case. In the Complaint, DYFS explains how it believes that you have abused or neglected your child. DYFS must also show why it needs to remove your child from your home. Or, if DYFS only wants to check on your family, it must show why that is necessary. In many situations, when DYFS files the case, it has already removed the child on an emergency basis and DYFS is asking the judge to keep the child in foster care.
It is very important that you get a DYFS attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us at 201-798-8000 or submit a case inquiry for a free consultation with an experienced DYFS attorney. We will discuss your options and create a plan at the beginning of DYFS’s case against you. Remember, you could lose your children forever, so it is important that we outline all the evidence and try to have the case dismissed as soon as possible. If DYFS has already removed your child on an emergency basis, our attorneys will fight aggressively to get them back.