DCP&P Attorney in Middlesex County, New Jersey

Ask any parent, and they will tell you that parenting is one of the most rewarding things they have ever done. Every day, you provide for your kids, teach them right from wrong, and deepen your growing relationship. If a former spouse or family member is threatening this relationship by falsely accusing you of child abuse or neglect, you need to use every tool at your disposal to defend yourself from accusations and protect your name.

If Middlesex County workers from the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) are taking an interest in you due to false accusations, never rely on the truth to fully exonerate you. Call the Lento Law Firm Family Law Team today at 888-535-3686 or contact us through our website to work within the system to defend your name.

The New Jersey Division of Child Protection & Permanency

DCP&P is a division of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families tasked with protecting children from abuse and neglect. If anyone in New Jersey is under suspicion of abusing or neglecting a child, DCP&P has the power and authority to remove that child from harm and take them out of the home.

DCP&P can address abuse and neglect in many ways, not just removal. During investigations, they gather evidence that prosecutors may later use when charging parents or guardians with serious crimes. Parents under investigation can even face restraining orders that prevent them from returning home and harming a child.

Even though these options are available, DCP&P does not have to take drastic action on every report of potential abuse. For instance, they can mandate recovery programs for issues like substance abuse and allow for a child to return home at a later date.

DCP&P Cases and Reporting in Middlesex County

DCP&P has three local offices in Middlesex County: Edison, Perth Amboy, and Piscataway. One of these local offices will handle investigations after DCP&P receives allegations of abuse or neglect regarding a Middlesex child.

The Middlesex County DCP&P investigates two types of cases:

  • Child Neglect: Instances where parents or legal guardians fail to provide children with adequate shelter, food, clothing, protection, medical care, or education.
  • Child Abuse: Instances where parents or legal guardians are alleged to have harmed a minor child either emotionally, physically, or sexually.

While New Jersey residents don't have to report every instance of criminality they see, child abuse or neglect does not fall into this category. Anyone who suspects that someone else is abusing or neglecting a child must report it to DCP&P or face potential criminal charges. The Family Law Team at the Lento Law Firm can help you understand what happens next if you make a report about an ex or family member you suspect of harming your child.

How Do DCP&P Investigations Start in Middlesex County?

Anyone can make a report to DCP&P and remain anonymous, and the accused person does not learn who made the report. DCP&P will send these reports of child abuse or neglect in Middlesex County to local offices that dispatch a caseworker to the child's home.

Caseworkers initially want to gain as much information as possible, and they will ask to speak with you if you are under investigation. They will also want to talk with the affected children and anyone else living in the house. If you prevent a caseworker from entering your home and refuse to cooperate with the investigation, they may involve the police or court systems to make you comply.

DCP&P investigations will primarily consist of interviews with people who may know details about the child's life, such as neighbors, relatives, doctors, and teachers. Investigations can only last 60 days, and you will receive a written report detailing their findings when everything is over. If DCP&P believes that the allegations of abuse or neglect are substantiated, you can end up in formal court proceedings where DCP&P must prove the accusations with evidence.

Middlesex County DCP&P Court Process

If DCP&P starts a court proceeding after they investigate you, the process will include many hearings and court appearances where DCP&P proves the allegations. The steps of the court process include:

  1. Order to Show Cause: DCP&P must prove to a court that they had the right to take action and demonstrate why the case should continue.
  2. Preliminary Hearings: The court will look at the evidence in the Order to Show Cause and other evidence gathered by DCP&P in the interim between hearings to decide if the case should continue.
  3. Fact-Finding Hearings: DCP&P must prove their allegations with further evidence, but you can defend yourself during these hearings and bring your own evidence.
  4. Dispositional Hearings: After hearing the evidence from both sides, the court will determine if the children involved in your case were abused or neglected. They will then decide the appropriate actions, which may include the removal of the child, counseling, or substance abuse programs.
  5. Review Hearings: If the court ordered any treatment or counseling, you must attend occasional review hearings for compliance purposes.
  6. Permanency Hearings: If your case continues after one year, the court will present its plan for permanent child placement outside the home. You also have the opportunity to present your own plan and argue why your child should return home.

Most DCP&P investigations result in dismissals or administrative decisions instead of court action. If DCP&P ends your investigation with an administrative decision, you have the right to appeal their findings.

The Family Law Team at the Lento Law Firm Can Help

Nothing that threatens your relationship with your child will ever be easy to endure, and the Lento Law Firm is ready to provide the assistance and understanding you need during this difficult time. If you are under investigation by Middlesex County DCP&P, our Family Law Team can help.

The Lento Law Firm can assist with any part of the process, but contacting us from the outset of your case dramatically improves the chances of a successful defense. Contact us today at 888-535-3686 or use our online form to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help.

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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