A New Jersey mother is mourning the loss of her son after he was allegedly beaten to death by his father.
The six-year-old was pronounced dead at a New Jersey hospital after the boy's father brought him in with complaints of nausea and shortness of breath. Authorities determined that the cause of death was blunt impact trauma and charged the father with homicide.
Just one day earlier, the boy's mother had requested an emergency custody order to protect him from his father's abuse. A judge denied that request, ruling that there was insufficient evidence to warrant such action. The mother had been reporting the child's father to the state's Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) since 2019.
The boy's death is a tragic end to a long story of alleged abuse, and it raises questions about the legal remedies available to parents who fear for their children's safety.
Child Protection Services in New Jersey
While every custody case is different, there are situations where immediate, sweeping action is necessary to protect a child from harm. New Jersey uses an emergency custody order known as an “Order to Show Cause” to provide this protection, and requires considerable evidence of imminent danger before such an order will be issued. In most cases, the court will work with DCP&P to substantiate the claims of mistreatment and determine the best course of action.
DCP&P's services include providing family counseling and individual treatment and investigating allegations of abuse or neglect. The agency can also remove children from the home in extreme cases, and recommend termination of parental rights.
Protecting Your Child From An Unfit Parent
When making decisions about custody and parental rights, New Jersey's Family Court will always look to what is in the “best interests of the child.” This process makes it imperative that the court have access to all pertinent information, especially when there's evidence of neglect and abuse.
In the case above, where the mother had filed more than 100 complaints with DCP&P, the judge indicated that his decision to deny emergency custody relied heavily on the agency's recommendations. Why DCP&P did not intervene in this case remains unclear. However, the denial does highlight the complexity of emergency custody investigations and the importance of having a skilled family law attorney on your side when you believe your child is in danger from a parent or other custodial caregiver.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Family Law Team have extensive experience helping families navigate the legal system in a difficult custody battle. Whether you have been falsely accused of abuse or neglect, or you need assistance with an emergency custody order, the Lento Law Firm will fight to help you achieve the best possible outcome.