Practicing Exclusively Family Law Since And based on my observations, the majority of DCF investigations result in nothing more than a closed file. If there is a possibility that the DCF investigation does proceed to the next stage, you need to understand the phases through which it will go. You should be very concerned about your rights when Florida DCF initiates litigation by filing a " petition for dependency ". The consequences of this petition can be quite serious.
The legal issues are complex, so it is important that you hire a family lawyer experienced in DCF dependency cases to represent you. The shelter hearing, where the state dependency petition is made. The arraignment, where the parent admits, denies or consent to the petition for dependency. The adjudication, where the parent can oppose the petition for dependency.
This next section describes these phases and the rights you have in each of them. It begins an investigation whenever an anonymous complaint is submitted about a worrisome domestic situation involving children. Unfortunately, many divorced parents involved in custody disputes exploit this requirement of investigate all complaints by reporting imaginary or frivolous concerns about the other parent's household.
However, family law judges have grown accustomed to this practice. Thus, the mere investigation by Child Protective Services probably will not affect the outcome of a pending family law case. If the children also spend overnights at another parent's house, CPS may also pay a visit to that parent. Finally, it can also interview neighbors and extended family members. Occasionally, psychiatric evaluations of the children may be conducted.
It then determines whether to file a petition for dependency. Keep in mind that these findings are much more serious than the typical factual findings in child custody battles. DCF does not care who is the better parent. Their only concern is whether the children can be safe with the offending parent.
If DCF does file a petition for dependency and serves the offending parent with it, the juvenile court judge must conduct a shelter hearing within 2 to 3 days. At this point you need to hire a DCF lawyer to defend your rights.
The offending parent or parents must receive written notice of this hearing. At the shelter hearing, the juvenile court judge will remove the child or children from the offending parent's home if probable cause exists to believe that:.
The children have been abandoned, neglected or abused, or are suffering from, or in imminent danger of illness or injury as a result of abuse, neglect, or abandonment or. However, even if the court temporarily removes the children from the offending parent's home, you do have the right to a temporary visitation schedule between the offending parent and the children unless there is clear and convincing evidence that visitation is not in the best interests of the children.
No later than twenty days after the shelter hearing, the juvenile court must hold an arraignment hearing.Norwell Executive Ctr. Jim was very responsive and accommodating and met with us on that Saturday even though his offices were closed.
This first meeting was a watershed for us. He listened intently, understood what we were going through and then helped put things into perspective.
From that point on he was in constant contact with us counseling us and helping us every step of the way with expert, sound and informed advice. Our time with Jim was short but extremely intense.
During this time Jim helped us in so many ways beyond just being our lawyer; he was the only beacon of light during the darkest few days of our entire lives. And has a special place in our memories forever. Sometimes, these mandated reporters prompt such statements by questioning the child. Today, even caring parents who have a desperately ill child may find themselves being accused of "medical child abuse" which used to be called Munchausen by Proxy simply because they disagree with a diagnosis or seek a second opinion.
If you are currently being investigated by the Department of Children and Families formerly known as the Department of Social Servicesor if your child or children have already been removed from the home or may be removed soon, you need to consult with an attorney who specializes in DCF Law immediately. It is also always advisable that the attorney is well-versed in criminal law, because many DCF interventions can result in criminal prosecutions as well.
You need an attorney who understands DCF, the Juvenile and Probate Courts and the criminal justice system inside and out and who can protect your constitutional and statutory rights as well as your greatest asset, your children, from the trauma of being removed from your home and placed in foster care. For over the past 17 years, Attorey Ianiri has specialized in representing parents, minor children, guardians, foster parents, teachers and day care providers throughout Massachusetts in all types of DCF-related cases:.
Attorney Ianiri has handled cases involving all types of issues--from substance abuse, severe neglect, shaken baby syndrome, Medical Child Abuse, Munchausen by Proxy, cases involving kids with special needs and on Individual Education Plans IEPschildren with autism, severe anxiety and emotional disturbance as well as mental retardation, homelessness, unsanitary housing conditions, incarceration, physical abuse, sexual abuse, DCF cases involving serious criminal charges against a parent, domestic violence and every other situation that leads to an emergency removal of a child.
You name it, Attorney Ianiri has seen it. With his experience, Attorney Ianiri can confidently say that the sooner you have an attorney representing you in any DCF matter, the sooner it will be that DCF is out of your life, the sooner you feel more in control of the situation, and also the sooner you reverse the damage caused by a 51A or a petition for Care and Protection.
With the proper guidance and advice, you can avoid the tragedy of a social worker knocking on your door with a police officer telling you they are taking your child away. But you need to know that in these situations, time is always of the essence. Of course, some cases are less serious than others where removal of your child is not likely.
Still, every 51A against you should be taken seriously. And if another 51A is filed, Attorney Ianiri will guarantee you that you will be treated more harshly the next time by DCF. This includes teachers, foster parents, day care providers, corporate leaders, high-paid professionals, coaches, clergy etc.
Depending on what you do, your very job could be at stake. And many parents who are leaders in their community cannot afford to have their good reputations tarnished because of a baseless or exaggerated allegation of abuse or neglect.Whatever the path, we stand beside you every step of the way. DCF does a very admirable and important job, but sometimes it may overstep its boundaries and break apart loving families. If you are currently being investigated by DCF or your child has been taken, you should get in contact with Attorney Klapproth to help you advocate for your parental rights during a hearing.
Suffering a personal injury can be devastating for you and your family. If you have sustained any type of injury in an accident, you may be uncertain whether or not you should hire a personal injury attorney to represent your interests. As a litigator, Attorney Klapproth is capable of handling cases to conclusion in Court. She also offers mediation services for those family law clients who prefer to settle their cases without going to trial in Court.
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Connecticut DCF Lawyer
Here you'll find links to important State and Federal legal information.Ghidini, LLC. With extensive experience in DCF cases and juvenile criminal cases, Attorney Ghidini can help you understand and navigate these complex proceedings. Call or submit our Consultation Form. Getting into the game early matters.
What does this mean in the context of a DCF case? For relatives and grandparents getting into the game early means being aware and involved in the early stages of a DCF investigation.
The early stages of a DCF investigation are a critical time. Safety agreements could be signed, mis-information could be put forth, and worse a minor relative could be put in non-relative placement. To avoid these pitfalls, relatives should get involved as soon as the parents will allow and put as much pressure on DCF to identify all family resources who could take a minor relative into their care.
It is hard to overstate the importance of the control of information in a DCF case. The attorney needs to control and set the narrative for the case from the start if the attorney wants a positive outcome. What does this mean for the client or the potential client? It means that a client should always speak with an attorney prior to speaking with DCF. In a large number of DCF investigations, it is actually the clients who supply all the necessary information to support the ongoing investigation or worse provide enough evidence for a finding of neglect.
Talk to us first. Request a free consultation: Call or submit our Consultation Form. Continue Reading Attorney John J. Continue Reading State of Connecticut v.Whenever there is a domestic violence arrest in Connecticut that involves children, or takes place in the presence or vicinity of children, then under Connecticut law, DCF must launch an investigation into you and your family. Even in cases where a minor verbal domestic argument or confrontation takes place between spouses or significant others, a Connecticut DCF investigation commences and suddenly you are faced with not only a criminal court domestic violence case, but you also must deal with fighting a Connecticut DCF investigation, which you should take very seriously.
DCF investigations being with a referral by phone or written report. They are required to report even suspected abuse or neglect of minors. For example, a bruise on a young boy or girl that the child received from a fall during sports or on the jungle gym can trigger a DCF report if the reporter is suspicious that abuse may be involved.
DCF reports can originate from the imaginations of kids who are looking for attention and tell tall tales to their friends. A single phone call to DCF by a mandated reporter will initiate the investigation process, no matter how far-fetched the story may be. DCF mandated reporters typically err on the side of caution when making reports, as any failure to make an obligated report can result in criminal or civil penalties against mandated reporter.
Frequent visits to your home can become the norm during a DCF investigation, as can interviews with your children, their teachers, their pediatricians, dentists and mental health providers, and sometimes other family members and even your neighbors.
Should I be concerned about this family? While we have tried to cover the basics of fighting your Connecticut DCF investigation, follow this link to learn more about the specifics of Connecticut DCF investigations and how to cost-effectively get them dismissed as quickly as possible.
If the abuse or neglect is believed to be severe, DCF can seek additional remedies from the Juvenile Division of the Superior Court that, if granted, will most likely affect your parental rights. Typically, the request will be to remove your child from your home, temporarily suspend your parental rights, or impose court-ordered counseling or supervised visitation.
No matter what the result, the report will be preserved at DCF and will be made available for use in future trials or investigations if necessary.
The Connecticut DCF appeal process allows you to call witnesses and take the DCF to task to satisfy their burden of proof in substantiating their allegations, a far cry from the DCF investigation process where you do not have right to confront your accusers, present evidence, or offer any testimony to an impartial judge or arbitrator. So if you are interested in appealing your DCF investigation, contact a top Connecticut DCF appeal lawyer as soon as possible as there are time deadlines to timely file an appeal.
Many times, individuals do not believe that an attorney is necessary in DCF investigations. After all, you might feel that you have not done anything wrong, or that an attorney is only necessary when you are guilty. The problem with this thinking is that DCF investigations may start out small, but upon a mere suspicion, investigations can quickly escalate the severity of the investigation and, in some case, refer it to the police.
We have a great deal of experience and success in counseling clients through DCF investigations, appealing DCF decisions, and trying to contain the DCF investigation so it has as little impact on and interference with your life as possible.
Call for legal help Christine Landis Attorney at Law. Connecticut Domestic Violence. Information Center. Mark Sherman. Connecticut Criminal Lawyer. Fighting a Connecticut DCF Investigation Whenever there is a domestic violence arrest in Connecticut that involves children, or takes place in the presence or vicinity of children, then under Connecticut law, DCF must launch an investigation into you and your family.
Fighting An Investigation Risk of Injury. Call for legal help Follow us on:.Finding out you are under investigation by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families DCF can often be an intimidating and confusing experience. You may wonder exactly what it is you did to cause the investigation, whether or not you should speak to investigators, and what will happen to you and your children. Connecticut DCF is responsible for child protection, meaning they must take any signs or reports of abuse seriously and act quickly, often without any prior notice.
If DCF is investigating you and your family for a domestic violence offense or otherwise, it is important that you retain the services of an experienced Connecticut DCF attorney as soon as possible in order to ensure that your rights are protected. Its general responsibilities include protecting children from harm or neglect and investigating instances where it may have occurred.
Typically, under state law the Department of Children and Families is required to investigate when it receives a report that a child may have been hurt or neglected. These individuals are required to contact the DCF if they suspect or have reason to believe that a minor is experiencing abuse or neglect. Mandated reporters include police officers, teachers, child care providers, health professionals, and counselors. Generally, DCF has 45 days from the initial referral to complete its investigation.
All decisions are handled on a case-by-case basis, and DCF personnel will typically meet with the family to discuss a rehabilitation plan. A caseworker will still show up at your home, interview all caretakers, and speak with all children. However, at the end of the day period, DCF will not formally substantiate any charges.
It is important to remember that DCF can always change its investigation from a Family Assessment Response to a full investigation if it is concerned about children in the home.
Yes, you can. During an appeals process, a person can call witnesses, present evidence and offer testimony to an objective judge who will determine if the substantiation should be overturned. Being investigated by Connecticut DCF can be extremely stressful and difficult for a family.
Sometimes, parents and children do not know whether or not they can refuse to speak to a DCF investigator, or what types of information are appropriate to share. Although you are not legally required to cooperate with DCF personnel or let them into your home, there are consequences for that. Your side of the story will be left out of the picture, which can be detrimental to the overall effects of the investigation.
An experienced Connecticut DCF attorney can assist in navigating this tricky experience. Attorneys who have worked on many DCF cases understand in which circumstances it would be best to cooperate with the DCF, and what information you should discuss. Talking to an experienced attorney will help make the process less confusing while ensuring your rights are protected at all times.
If the DCF is investigating you or your family, it is imperative that you seek the assistance of a skilled Connecticut DCF lawyer who has extensive experience navigating these complicated matters.
To secure the best outcome possible for you and your family, and ensure your rights are protected every step of the way, contact a DCF attorney as soon as possible and check out our extensive content channel on fighting Connecticut DCF investigations. Title: Outstanding and Compassionate. If you are reading this it is because you need help immediately. Call Attorney Sherman right now and follow his advice.
He knows how to protect your family. Even if you are innocent you need Mr. Sherman on your side.It is necessary to understand that:.
Summoning you into Juvenile Court, on a petition alleging that your kids are abused, neglected, or uncared-for. The hour-hold removes your kids for a maximum of four days. However, before the four days are over, DCF invariably files a motion for an OTC in Court, submitting a sworn affidavit of its version of the facts.
The Judge almost always signs the OTC, and then you get a court hearing to tell your side. In the vast majority of cases, the OTC is sustained by the Court.
Thus, your kids are taken by the State. These are not criminal cases. Therefore, parents do not have to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of their peers at a public trial. They do not ordinarily have the right of habeas corpus.
These are not ordinary civil cases. Therefore, the rules of evidence are relaxed, meaning that hearsay evidence can often be used against parents. Pretrial discovery is very limited. The odds are further stacked against parents.
In contrast, court-appointed DCF defense lawyers are poorly paid and receive no state benefits. Since the emotional issue of child protection is involved, many Judges understandably err on the side of caution. If your kids have been taken, or if DCF has called upon you for any reason, you may wish to consider retaining a private lawyer who is skilled and experienced in DCF defense. If you already have a lawyer, you may wish to get a second opinion. That is too ridiculous for words, but some people fall for it; to their eventual regret.
That is suicide. No amount of arguing with the social worker will reverse the OTC. It is not like being investigated by the police, and trying to convince the detective that you have a good alibi and are innocent. Unless you have a lawyer who is experienced with the ins-and-outs of DCF, knows all their tricks, and is fluent in Juvenile Court motion practice, you will be at a severe disadvantage against the AAG.
DCF defense law is quite different from criminal law or family divorce law.
The procedures are different, the standards of proof are different, the rules of evidence are different, and the motions are different. Unless you are willing to listen to your lawyer, the task will be much more difficult, if not impossible. If your goal is to argue or vent, rather than do what is necessary to reunify your family, then you are wasting your money by hiring a private lawyer.
Legal Representation for DCF Cases in Connecticut
OTC is serious business. It may lead to TPR, and the permanent loss of your kids.
It is a secretive agency, used to getting its way, and has very little oversight from the State Legislature. We also offer brief initial consultations at reasonable rates. These help you to determine your legal rights, and help you to chart your course of action in dealing with DCF. Michael H.Twin Peaks defense attorney calls prosecutors' behavior 'criminal'
Agranoff graduated the UConn Law School, magna cum laude, in Inhe began working as a DCF defense lawyer. He has represented hundreds of parents, grandparents, and other adult relatives in Juvenile Court.