If someone has reported you to the Department of Social Services (DSS) for child abuse or child neglect, you need to contact an experienced attorney like those at The Gillen Law Firm. It’s also important to read the papers carefully, as anything you say could be used against you in potential criminal proceedings. The possibility of having your kids taken from is very upsetting and having an attorney onboard is your best defense.
Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect
Most DSS cases begin with someone outside of the family reporting neglect or abuse of a child. The list is long, but it can be a neighbor, teacher, healthcare worker or social worker. Once a report it made, the police notify DSS. If law enforcement has probable cause to believe the child is in danger, they can take emergency protective custody of the child. The child may also be turned over to DSS and foster care.
DSS must complete a preliminary investigation to determine if there is probable cause to begin court proceedings to remove the child from the home. During this investigation, DSS will meet the parent and perform a risk assessment. They will also investigate records for indications of sex offenses or prior child abuse and neglect. The DSS may take temporary custody of the child and place the child with a relative.
Probable Cause Hearing
If law enforcement advises the DSS not to return the child to the home, a probable cause hearing is held. Typically, family court schedules a probable cause hearing within 72 hours of taking custody of the child. The hearing usually include the testimony of witnesses and the presentation of other evidence, such as photos. The accused parent may have an attorney to cross-examine the DSSs witnesses. If the court determines that the allegations of neglect and abuse are true, it will order the DSS to keep custody of the child. The court may also issue an order for only supervised visitation of the child. Parental rights may even be terminated.
Having your kids taken from you can be a horrible experience, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Get The Gillen Law Firm on-board to handle the legal issues. We’ll help you by representing you at hearings and providing you with the steps you need to take.