When DYFS is involved you should seek legal assistance. DYFS can initially become involved as a result of an anonymous report, a doctor’s report, a teacher’s report, or police involvement. These are by no means the only ways DYFS can be alerted to a problem concerning the parenting of minor children.
Sometimes parents also contact DYFS to gain advantage in a custody dispute. If the allegations are unfounded, the courts can use this against the parent who called DYFS. It is inappropriate to use DYFS as a weapon in a divorce if there is no basis.
Many DYFS responses do not result in a court action. However, your name can still be placed on a Central Registry without court action. There are some recent, new regulations which expand the social worker’s analysis of the case. Counsel can help you react appropriately.
DYFS will conduct an initial investigation. It is not too early to seek the advice of counsel at that stage. Frequently, parents are angry and try to fight the DYFS worker because of the sudden invasion of one’s rights to care for their own children. This is a mistake.
Jacqueline F. Pivawer of Helfand & Associates, located at 575 Route 10 East, Suite 1, Whippany, Morris County, New Jersey, has had years of experience representing parents who are involved with DYFS. Before the case ever goes to Court, Jacqueline F. Pivawer can assist and consult with parents as to how to respond and what to do to show that DYFS is not needed. It is well worth the time and effort to learn what is needed to properly handle DYFS involvement.
If the case is considered more serious, Jacqueline F. Pivawer has represented parents in all abuse and neglect proceedings, including defense for fact findings, permanency hearings, and termination of parental rights trials.
If there is an emergency removal of a child by DYFS without a court order the parents or guardians will have an opportunity to appear in the appropriate Superior Court Chancery Division, Family Part within two days. When a child has been removed, DYFS has the authority to obtain a medical screening of the child. A parent needs legal representation for all appearances concerning an emergency removal. The parent is afforded a trial or fact finding hearing. The court must state the grounds for its determination as to whether the child has been abused or neglected. At the conclusion of the dispositional hearing, the court will either (1) suspend judgment, (2) release the child to the custody of its parents, (3) place the child, (4) make an order of protection, (5) place the respondent on probation, or (6) require that an individual found to have abused or neglected a child accept therapeutic services.
Jacqueline F. Pivawer of Helfand & Associates is a skilled trial attorney and has prevailed in removal proceedings to get the child reunited with its parents. DYFS must present sufficient facts to sustain its Complaint. The “minimum degree of care” in reference to an abused or neglected child refers to conduct that is grossly or wantonly negligent, but not necessarily intentional.
If a child in injured or can be physically, mentally, or emotionally impaired because a parent failed to use caution to prevent the harmful exposure, it can be considered abuse and neglect. Cases such as exposing a child to Domestic Violence can result in DYFS intervention, trial, and a finding of abuse or neglect.
Jacqueline F. Pivawer at Helfand & Associates has years of experience in prosecuting and defending municipal court cases and domestic violence matters. This experience is especially valuable in defending parents in DYFS cases. Often issues of drug dependency and municipal court offenses carry over into DYFS cases.