DCP&P Attorney in Cape May County, New Jersey

Your child is likely your biggest source of pride and joy. You've been with them from their first breath, and you'll do whatever it takes to keep them safe. If you're accused of child abuse or neglect, it can be a terrifying experience. It's important to act quickly if you've been falsely accused of abusing or neglecting your child. You need to get out in front of any accusations to limit any lasting impacts these accusations might have upon you, your child, and your family.

You'll likely be dealing with the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P), but you don't need to do it alone! You need an experienced lawyer representing you: your child is on the line. There are no greater stakes out there. The Family Law Team at the Lento Law Firm is here and ready to help you navigate the DCP&P of Cape May County. Contact the Lento Law Firm today or give us a call at (888) 535-3686 to discuss your case!

New Jersey's Division of Child Protection & Permanency

The DCP&P serves the important purpose of protecting New Jersey's children from neglect and abuse. Their goal is to ensure that all of the state's children are healthy, safe, and well-cared for. The DCP&P investigates any allegations of child abuse and neglect and may arrange for the removal of the child from unsafe circumstances. The DCP&P has local offices across the state that are responsible for responding to and investigating these reports.

The DCP&P doesn't just remove children from bad situations, however. Depending on the circumstances, DCP&P can also instigate charges against the accused. This can include restraining orders or even criminal charges. Those criminal charges can end in incarceration. That's why it's so important not to go down this road alone: you need an experienced attorney by your side. It's not the DCP&P's goal to pursue criminal charges, but they will if they feel the circumstances warrant it.

DCP&P Cases and Reporting in Cape May County

DCP&P has one local office in Cape May County, located in Rio Grande, New Jersey. If you're a Cape May County resident, you'll be dealing with them.

The Cape May County DCP&P investigates two different types of cases:

  • Child abuse: the intentional physical, emotional, or mental abuse, negligent treatment, or sexual abuse by someone entrusted with the child's care.
  • Child neglect: the failure of a parent or caregiver to exercise a minimum degree of care in providing food, shelter, safe living environment, healthcare, or clothing to a child in their care.

Everyone has a legal duty to report any suspicions of child abuse or neglect to the DCP&P. Failure to report child abuse or neglect is considered to be a disorderly person's offense and can lead to a fine, imprisonment, or both. You have a legal responsibility to file a report with the DCP&P if you suspect that your child may be being abused, even if it is by your spouse, partner, or family member. You also should contact the experienced legal team at the Lento Law Firm to help you take the next steps after filing a report.

DCP&P's Initial Investigation

After the DCP&P receives a report of suspected abuse or neglect, the local field office will send a case worker to the child's home to investigate further. This officer will want to speak with the parents, the child in question, and any other children or people living in the household.

While you may refuse to let the caseworker into your house, the DCP&P caseworker may seek judicial or police involvement to allow them entrance. Depending on the outcome of this initial visit with the child, the officer may want to talk further to other people in the child's life. These can include other family members, teachers, babysitters, doctors, or neighbors.

DCP&P only has 60 days to complete their investigation. You'll then receive a letter detailing the results of this. If the abuse or neglect charges were credible, meaning there was evidence that the child was abused or neglected, then court proceedings may be initiated.

It's important to note that if you were the person who reported the neglect or abuse, you can do so anonymously and remain anonymous throughout the proceedings.

The DCP&P Court Process in Cape May County

If there was child abuse or neglect occurring, and the DCP&P chooses to open a court case, the following will occur:

  1. Order to Show Cause and Complaint: This is the basis of the accusation.
  2. Preliminary Hearing: The Court determines if there is enough evidence to proceed with a case.
  3. Fact-Finding Hearing: This is where evidence is introduced.
  4. Dispositional Hearing: The Court determines if the child can return home or if the accused needs treatment or counseling.
  5. Review Hearings: If the accused attended counseling or treatment, periodic review hearings are necessary to follow progress.
  6. Permanency Hearing: The court determines the best permanent plan for the child.

It's important to note that just because the DCP&P can initiate court proceedings, it doesn't mean they always will. Often, they issue an administrative decision, which is something that a parent or guardian can appeal.

It's Important to Have an Experienced Attorney on Your Side

Your child is at stake. Whether you've been falsely accused of abuse or neglect, or you're accusing someone else of abusing or neglecting your child, it's important to give you and your child the best shot at success. Dealing with the DCP&P can be an incredibly intimidating experience, one you shouldn't be going through alone. The Lento Law Firm Family Law Team has many years of experience representing parents with the DCP&P. Contact us today at (888) 535-3686 to take the next steps in your case!

Contact a Family Law Attorney Today!

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience practicing Family Law in New Jersey. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Family Law Attorney Joseph Lento will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

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