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Family Law: Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) Matters

New Jersey DYFS Lawyer Representing Claims Against Children 

There is nothing more precious or valuable to parents than their children. Unfortunately, there are times when families face challenges outside of their control. This is when a New Jersey DYFS lawyer can help. Contact Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. today to schedule a consultation. 

False accusations and allegations by neighbors, teachers or relatives who overreact to a situation they do not understand can change your life forever. These allegations can also change your children’s lives. Other people can set in motion a series of events, intentionally or unintentionally, which can cause you and your family years of stress and anguish. A single report to the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS, now also known as the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, or DCPP) can drag you and your children through the court system for months or even years. The child welfare agency can try to take custody of your children, invade your privacy, and in some instances, try to terminate your parental rights. It often works hand-in-hand with the police to try and put you in jail. Consulting a New Jersey DYFS lawyer can make the difference between keeping your family together and having the “system” tear it apart.

How We Can Help You

A typical investigation by DYFS can happen very quickly. In fact, it can happen so quickly and have such swift and severe consequences that you might lose custody of your children with less than 10 minutes’ notice. When the agency works on a case, the alleged goal of its investigation is to protect the child. Oftentimes, without all of the facts and a lack of understanding of the circumstances and relationships within a given family, the agency can obtain the assistance of a local police department or the New Jersey State Police and come to your house with sufficient paperwork to seize your children and place them in foster care. This can happen before you even have a chance to explain your side of the story. Your only recourse is a court hearing a few days later where you can challenge the preliminary findings of DYFS/DCPP. 

These expedited court hearings are designed to give DYFS/DCPP the advantage. The agency has teams of investigators, social workers, and lawyers to present their case to the judge. A DYFS attorney in New Jersey who understands the law and court rules is in the best position to obtain a favorable outcome for you and your family.

What is the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS)?

The Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), now known as the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), is New Jersey’s child protection and child welfare agency. As stated on its website, DYFS’s mission is to, “ensure the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and support families;” and, in order to fulfill this mission, DYFS, “is responsible for investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect and, if necessary, arranging for the child's protection and the family's treatment.”

DYFS has 48 offices throughout New Jersey, including two offices in Bergen County. These offices are located at 240 Frisch Court in Paramus, and 125 State Street in Hackensack.

As a parent who has been accused of child neglect, endangerment or abuse and who is now facing potential loss of custody through DYFS, it is critical to ensure that you deal with DYFS appropriately. This means:

  • Do not retaliate against your partner or whoever else may have reported you to DYFS.
  • Do not violate the terms of your custody order under any circumstances, even if you believe that you have wrongfully been denied access to your children.
  • Be cooperative, but not overly so. While it is important to avoid any unnecessary hostility, you also need to be careful to protect your legal rights.
  • Engage an attorney promptly so that he or she can help you make smart decisions and deal with DYFS personnel on your behalf.

Regardless of the circumstances you are facing, protecting your children’s best interests needs to be your top priority. Unfortunately, what parents believe to be in their children’s best interests and what DYFS says is necessary will not always align; and, for this reason, it is critical for all parents accused of neglect, endangerment or abuse in New Jersey to work closely with a knowledgeable DYFS lawyer.

What Can I Do if My Child Has Been Placed in Foster Care Through DYFS?

If the police came to your home, seized your child, and placed him or her in foster care through DYFS, you will need to act quickly in order to try to bring your child home as soon as possible. You need to prepare for your scheduled court hearing, and you need to work with an attorney who knows how to quickly build an effective case against fostering a child based upon unsubstantiated allegations. If your child is placed in foster care and a New Jersey family law judge determines that it is not safe for your child to return home, he or she could be placed for adoption. While this is an unimaginable scenario for most parents, it is a very real possibility in many scenarios involving DYFS, and parents need to do everything in their power to protect their relationship with their children.

Steps parents can take to help preserve their relationship with their children and avoid having them placed in foster care (and potentially placed for adoption) include:

  • Making sure they have a clear understanding of the allegations against them
  • Finding a copy of their custody order and gathering any other documentation received from the New Jersey family law courts or DYFS
  • Making a list of individuals who may be able to serve as favorable witnesses
  • Writing down all details they remember about the alleged incident and their interactions with the police or DYFS
  • Appearing at the expedited court hearing with legal representation

Can DYFS Really Terminate My Parental Rights?

Sadly, yes. Included among the powers granted to DYFS is the power to take legal action in order to terminate mothers’ and fathers’ parental rights and place their children for adoption against their will. While formally terminating parental rights requires court approval, DYFS takes an aggressive approach in cases involving allegations of neglect, endangerment and abuse, and it will not hesitate to seek to terminate biological parents’ relationships with their children. As a parent, you need to take any interaction with DYFS extremely seriously.

10 Key Facts for Parents Dealing with DYFS Following Allegations of Neglect, Endangerment or Abuse

1. Your Relationship with Your Child is at Risk.

This point cannot be overstated. If DYFS is seeking to take your children out of your home, there is a very real possibility that your children will be placed in foster care, and that DYFS may ultimately seek to place them for adoption.

2. Allegations are Enough to Create Serious Issues.

In New Jersey, all accusations of child neglect, endangerment and abuse are taken very seriously. Unfortunately, this means that many parents are forced to deal with DYFS and fight to protect their relationship with their children as a result of false allegations.

3. While Your Expedited Hearing Will Happen Soon, the Process Could Drag on For Years.

Although you need to begin preparing immediately for your expedited hearing, you also need to be prepared for your case with DYFS to drag on for years. Taking a proactive approach to defending against termination of your parental rights (with the help of experienced legal representation) is generally the best way to resolve your case as quickly as possible.

4. In Addition to Losing Your Parental Rights, You Could Also Go to Jail.

If you are found guilty of child endangerment or child abuse, not only could you lose your parental rights, but you could also go to jail. These are serious crimes under New Jersey law; and, if the allegations against you are sexual in nature, you could be facing additional life-altering penalties as well.

5. DYFS is Not on Your Side.

Despite its stated mission of protecting children and supporting families, if you have been accused of child neglect, endangerment or abuse, DYFS is not on your side. DYFS routinely works with the New Jersey State Police to separate parents and children, and it is up to you to fight to keep your family together.

6. Getting Angry about Being Separated from Your Children Can Be a “Red Flag.”

Despite all common sense to the contrary, if you get angry when the police or DYFS agents come to your home to take your children away from you, this can actually be seen as a “red flag” that will be counted against you. No matter what the circumstances may be, you need to keep your cool, and it is best to let your attorney speak on your behalf.

7. You Have Defenses Available.

Regardless of the allegations against you, and regardless of how true or false they may be, you have defenses available. In order to protect your relationship with your children and preserve your personal freedom, it will be important for you to execute a comprehensive defense strategy focused on dealing with state prosecutors and DYFS.

8. Doing Nothing Will Lead to Negative Consequences.

When you are facing allegations of child neglect, endangerment or abuse, one of the worst things you can do is to do nothing at all. If you ignore your situation, it will only get worse, and there is a good chance that DYFS will place your children with a foster family while you await criminal prosecution.

9. Your Choice of Legal Representation Matters.

With everything that is at stake in a case involving DYFS, your choice of legal representation matters. You need a lawyer who not only has experience dealing with family law matters, but who has specific experience working with DYFS and who regularly handles criminal abuse and endangerment cases at trial.

10. Our Attorneys have Extensive Experience Dealing with DYFS.

At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., we have extensive experience representing parents in matters involving DYFS. We also routinely represent clients in criminal matters, and we help parents with everything from securing custody to fighting restraining orders. No matter how dire your situation may seem, we can help, but in order to do so we need you to contact us immediately.

About Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A.

Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. is a full-service law firm with multiple office locations throughout New Jersey. Our attorneys have centuries of combined experience in complex family and criminal law matters, and we have a long history of helping parents protect their rights against DYFS. We are aggressive and compassionate advocates for our clients; and, above all, we are committed to fighting to make sure that our clients’ families and legal rights are secure.

When you contact us, we will arrange for you to meet with one of our attorneys as soon as possible. We can help you schedule an appointment at one of our 16 convenient office locations; or, if you prefer, we can make alternate arrangements for you to speak with an attorney in person or over the phone. You do not have to deal with your situation alone. We are here for you, and we are prepared to do everything in our power to keep your children at home.

If you have been contacted by the police or DYFS concerning allegations of child neglect, endangerment or abuse, you need to take action immediately. You can contact us 24/7 to schedule a confidential consultation.

Contact a New Jersey DYFS Lawyer at Our Firm Today

At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., we employ courtroom attorneys with more than 400 years of litigation experience among them. The experience of a New Jersey DYFS lawyer from our firm can guide you and your family through this very difficult and emotional time, never losing sight of the fact that your family should stay together and that you and not the court should raise your children. We strongly believe that a family law attorney can make the difference. 856-547-7888. Call Us – Problem Solved.

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