What Happens When Facing Allegations of Child Abuse
Everyone has the right to raise their child in the way that they best see fit. As long as a child is not being harmed and their basic needs are being met, the government will not get involved. However, sometimes child abuse accusations come up from a misunderstanding or in an attempt to influence the custody agreement in a divorce.
At the office of Edward J. Jennings, P.A., we understand that this experience is incredibly overwhelming. We are experienced in litigation and will work hard to prove the accusations of abuse are unfounded.
What Happens Now?
The first step in any child abuse case is an investigation by Child and Family Services. An agent from Department of Child Welfare will come out to your home and investigate the validity of the claims.
What Happens to My Children?
If the agent determines that there is a chance that the child could be at risk, the agent will petition the Department of Child Welfare to remove the child from the home. At this time, this is not a permanent decision; it just lasts throughout the trial, until the matter is resolved. Depending upon who made the allegations, it is possible that the child may be able to stay with an extended family member, such as a grandparent, until the end of the investigation. This is done because it tends to limit the trauma of the experience, since the children know the people that they are staying with and experience a less significant change of environment.
The Agent Said We Have to go to a Hearing?
A court hearing to determine if the removal of your child from your home is necessary will happen within 24 hours of the decision to remove your child. If the judge decides that separating your children from their home is the right decision while the investigation continues, a visitation schedule will be set up.
How Long Will This Take?
Florida law states that a child requires a child protection investigation in 60 days, unless there is an active criminal investigation, or the death of a child is related to the investigation. Throughout those 60 days, you will have to attend meetings and hearings. This helps the judge to determine what the best decision is for your child.
What are the Possible Results of an Investigation?
If the allegations of abuse are deemed to be untrue, the judge will allow your child to return home.
If the allegations of abuse are found to be truthful, there are a variety of things that can happen. The first option is for the judge to determine that your child can safely stay within your home, as long as you participate in court ordered programs, such as anger management, or counseling. The judge can also put you on court supervision, and require the court to check in with you regularly. In-home case management is typically tried prior to removing your child from your home permanently. The judge will ultimately make their decision based upon what is in the best interest of the child.
How Do I Fight the Allegations?
At the office of Edward J. Jennings P.A., we are experienced in litigation related to the allegation of child abuse. Don’t hesitate to contact our Fort Lauderdale family law attorneys immediately for assistance with your case.