Whenever an allegation of child abuse and/or child neglect is called into the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P, formerly known as DYFS), there will be an investigation into the allegations. Additionally, a DCP&P investigation may be conducted when there is domestic violence issues between parents. DCP&P has 60 days to issue the results of their investigation. There are four possible findings regarding the allegations: (1) unfounded; (2) not established; (3) established; or (4) substantiated. These findings can be challenged.
Depending on the findings of the DCP&P investigators, a parent’s right to custody of their child could be significantly impacted. DCP&P can decide that a parent poses an immediate risk of harm to their child and that the child must be removed from the custody of that parent. At the very least, once DCP&P is involved, the agency will try to work with the parent(s) to neutralize any issues within the family, and may request that the family members engage in various social services such as counselling, substance abuse treatment, domestic violence counselling, parenting skills training, etc.
During a custody case, the Court will consider many factors to determine the “best interests” of the child(ren). (See the factors set forth in NJS 9:2-4). The Judge will take note of any and all DCP&P involvement with the family. Depending on the findings of DCP&P, and the compliance of a parent with the DCP&P recommended services, a Court could decide that the custody rights of a parent should be circumscribed, at least temporarily. Thus, it is important to contact an experienced family law attorney to ensure that your parental rights are protected. When DCP&P has become involved with your family, your right to the custody of your child(ren) may be substantially affected. The attorneys at Edens Law Group have experience handling all types of custody cases and can help you protect your rights.