DCP&P Attorney in Union County, New Jersey

As a parent, it's natural to constantly worry about your child's well-being and strive to protect them from harm. When a former spouse or family member accuses you of child abuse or neglect, it can be a shocking and distressing experience. If you're facing these accusations, it's essential to act quickly to minimize the impact on your child and family.

Dealing with the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) in Union County may be necessary, but it's not something you should handle alone. Seeking legal guidance from the Family Law Team at the Lento Law Firm is highly recommended. Contact our team today at 888-535-3686 or provide your information through our contact form so we can better understand your situation.

Union County Division of Child Protection and Permanency

The New Jersey DCP&P works to protect children from abuse and neglect. To fulfill this mission, the division will take immediate action to remove a child from the custody or presence of anyone suspected of abuse, if necessary. In some cases, the DCP&P can remove a child from their home.

However, the DCP&P's efforts go beyond removal. It also builds legal cases against those responsible for abuse or neglect. The division has the authority to take legal actions, such as obtaining restraining orders or pursuing criminal charges, which may result in the perpetrator being removed from the household or even incarcerated. While the primary focus of the DCP&P is to protect the child, they will also pursue criminal charges if necessary.

DCP&P Cases in Union County

In Union County, the DCP&P has three offices: Two are at the same address in Cranford (but in separate offices), and one is in Plainfield. If you become involved in a child abuse or neglect case, you will need to contact either the Union Central, East, or West Local Office.

Union County DCP&P investigates two types of cases:

Child abuse: When a child under the age of 18 is physically, sexually, or emotionally harmed by a parent, guardian, or caregiver

Child neglect: When a child's basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and a safe home, are not being met by their parents, guardians, or caregivers

In New Jersey, everyone is considered a "mandated reporter" of child abuse or neglect. Anyone who suspects child abuse must report it to DCP&P. If you believe your child is being abused or neglected by a former spouse or family member, you are legally required to report it.

Handling child abuse or neglect situations, whether you have been accused or you wish to file a report against someone else, can be complex and emotionally overwhelming. It's advisable to seek guidance from the Family Law Team at the Lento Law Firm.

DCP&P Investigations in Union County

When the DCP&P receives a report of possible abuse or neglect, it reviews the report and dispatches a caseworker to the child's residence to conduct an investigation. If you are being accused of abuse or neglect, the caseworker will request to speak with you and members of your household, including your children. If you refuse to cooperate, the caseworker has the authority to seek assistance from a judge or the police.

Following the initial visit, the caseworker may also speak to other adults involved in the child's life, such as teachers, doctors, relatives, and neighbors. DCP&P must finish the investigation in 60 days. Once the investigation is over, you'll receive a written report of the findings.

If there's evidence that your child has been harmed or put at risk, you may be required to go through legal proceedings in court. If you were the one who reported the abuse or neglect, your identity can remain confidential throughout the process, and the accused party won't be informed of your involvement.

Union County DCP&P Court Process

Not all DCP&P cases end up in court, but some do. If your case goes to court, you can expect the following process:

  1. Order to Show Cause: DCP&P must have evidence to support an accusation of child abuse, which it takes from the investigation report. Then, the division will file an order to show cause.

  2. Preliminary Hearing: There's an initial hearing to determine if DCP&P has enough evidence to proceed with the case. At this hearing, a judge reviews the Order to Show Cause.

  3. Fact-Finding Hearing: At a second hearing, the DCP&P can present its evidence to support its claim of child abuse or neglect. The accused person will also have the opportunity to present their own evidence.

  4. Dispositional Hearing: If the court determines there is evidence of abuse or neglect, a dispositional hearing will take place. At this hearing, the court will decide whether the child should be allowed to return home and whether the accused person needs to undergo counseling or treatment.

  5. Review Hearings: If the accused individual has been ordered to complete counseling or treatment, they'll have to go to periodic review hearings at the court to report on their progress.

  6. Permanency Hearing: Some cases remain open for more than one year. In this situation, the court holds a permanency hearing, which must include a plan for a permanent resolution. If the accused person is the parent or guardian of the child, they can propose an alternative plan.

Sometimes, DPC&P makes administrative decisions rather than launching a court procedure. Parents or guardians have the right to appeal administrative decisions.

The Lento Law Firm's Family Law Team Can Help

Handling a DCP&P matter alone isn't a good idea. At the Lento Law Firm, we understand the challenges you are facing and offer both legal guidance and emotional support. Our Family Law Team has experience in DCP&P matters and is ready to assist families in Union County. We will guide you through the process and provide advice on how to effectively interact with DCP&P officials.

If you are dealing with a situation involving child abuse or neglect, contact the Lento Law Firm's Family Law Team. We will work with you to protect your children and defend your rights as a parent. To schedule a consultation, call 888-535-3686 or fill out our contact form with your information.

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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