DYFS Attorneys with offices in Hackensack, Morristown, Newark NJ
The DYFS defense lawyers at the Tormey Law Firm LLC know how important your family is to you. That’s why protecting your family and your parental rights is our number one goal. Our team of child abuse defense lawyers has literally been on the other side of these cases: Tom Ercolano, a member of our team, is a former New Jersey Deputy Attorney General who prosecuted DYFS cases for the State of New Jersey for 4 years. Now, he uses that experience and expertise to protect our clients facing similar allegations. In addition, Travis J. Tormey, our managing partner, has a perfect 10.0 rating on AVVO, an attorney rating service, and he has received the client’s choice award for four straight years.
Let our experienced attorneys handle these allegations (whether it be a DYFS investigation or a criminal investigation or both). Our attorneys handle these cases throughout New Jersey including in Jersey City, Guttenberg, Weehawken, and North Bergen. Contact our offices anytime for immediate assistance at 201-556-1570. The initial consultation is always provided free of charge.
Here is a review from one of our many satisfied DCPP (DYFS) clients:
Lawyers Against DYFS NJ: Drugs and Alcohol
Title 9 and Title 30 do not specifically prohibit a parent from using alcohol or drugs. Rather, courts analyze parental substance use in light of the minimum degree of care standard to determine whether or not a parents’ alcohol or drug use poses a risk of harm to the child. In addition, even if a parent’s substance use does not rise to the level of child abuse and neglect, the court may find that there are child welfare concerns as a result of a parent’s substance use and that the State should have custody of the child while the parent addresses their substance use issues.
If a parent’s substance use is taking precedence over enrolling their child in school or regularly going to the pediatrician, or if a child’s clothes no longer fit and the child does not have food to eat but the parent is using alcohol or drugs the courts may find that the child is abused or neglected or that there are sufficient child welfare concerns to take custody of the child. Similarly, if a parent uses substances and becomes impaired while caring for a child and is unable to tend to the child’s needs or if the child has direct access to alcohol or drugs, the court may find that the child is abused or neglected. The bottom line is that substance use alone is one thing; substance use resulting in impairment while caring for a child or substance use that results in educational neglect, medical neglect, or unsafe living conditions is another.
As with all child abuse and neglect cases, the totality of the circumstances will dictate whether or not a child is abused or neglected and whether or not a parent or even an expecting mother has failed to exercise a minimum degree of care in providing appropriate care due to substance use. For example, because there is no fetal abuse law in New Jersey, a pregnant woman who uses illicit substances or alcohol while pregnant is not perpetrating child abuse. However, if a child is born with withdrawals associated with neonatal abstinence syndrome, or permanent birth defects related to fetal alcohol syndrome, then the mother could be found to have perpetrated child abuse and neglect. N.J. Dep’t of Children and Families v. A.L., 213 N.J. 1 (2013).
In addition, courts have not found that parents abused or neglected their children if they merely tested positive for an illicit substance during a supervised visitation, which is different than actually being intoxicated or under the influence of an illicit substance while caring for a child. N.J. Div. of Youth and Family Servs. v. V.T., 423 N.J. Super. 320 (App. Div. 2011). The courts have also determined that if parents had a few drinks while caring for their children, even resulting in a hangover, there was no abuse or neglect because the parent had not an actually harmed the child and because having a few drinks is not, automatically, reckless conduct. N.J. Div. of Child Prot. & Permanency v. J.C., 440 N.J. Super. 568 (App. Div. 2015). Keep in mind though that every case is different and, perhaps if a parent who has only a few drinks while caring for a child but has already battled alcoholism and is supposed to be attending treatment and abstaining from alcohol use, the outcome could be different.
Generally, the courts do not condone the use of any illegal substances – not the tiniest bit – and the courts have agreed that children could be removed from their parents’ custody due to substance use even though the substance use alone did not rise to the level of abuse or neglect. In other words, just because a parent is not abusing or neglecting their children, the courts can still justify taking custody away from the parents and if you have a substance use issue it is imperative to consider seeking addiction services.
If the Division receives a referral alleging that you use substances while caring for your child, the Division will most likely attempt to have you attend substance abuse treatment. Regardless of whether or not the courts are involved, if DCP&P asks you to submit to urine screens, attend a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counseling (“CADC”) evaluation, or attend treatment you should consider contacting an experienced DCP&P defense attorney to discuss your rights and learn the possible outcomes of DCP&P involvement in your family’s life.
Our DYFS defense lawyers are available immediately to assist you at 201-556-1570. The initial consultation is always provided free of charge.