Can My Mother or Father Take My Kids in NJ?
In some situations, a third party can step in to take care of your children if you are unable or unwilling to do so. There are circumstances where that third party may be your father or mother. Grandparents have more rights in New Jersey when compared to other states, including grandparent visitation and even stepping in to act as your child’s guardian in some circumstances. However, in some cases, grandparents can cause you serious problems with child protective services. They may even report you for abuse or neglect, or attempt to get custody of your children. It is important to understand how grandparents can get involved in a DCPP case, and to seek immediate legal counsel if you are accused of unfit parenting. Call (908)-356-6900 to speak with an experienced New Jersey DCPP attorney about your specific case. Our team is available right away to provide you with a free consultation.
Grandparent Reports to Child Services in New Jersey
The Division of Child Protection & Permanency (DCPP) conducts investigations relating to child abuse and neglect. It is part of New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families. Investigation is required for all reports of abuse and neglect. Complaints regarding child abuse and neglect can come from virtually any source. However, there are certainly situations where grandparents report their children for neglecting their grandchild. This type of fact pattern is particularly common when there are substance abuse concerns. DCPP is not allowed to tell you who made the report.
Grandparents or others will sometimes report abuse or neglect to DCPP, who is then required to investigate the report. This happens by having a representative come to your home to speak with you, the child, and generally evaluate the house as whole. The police or the courts can help the DCPP representative get access to your home if you refuse, so it is generally a good idea to cooperate with the investigation as much as possible. They will not disclose their findings until after the investigation is complete.
A finding of abuse or neglect will often lead to the determination that a parent should not be permitted to care for their child, either permanently or for a short time while the parent works to meet certain minimum requirements to regain physical custody of their child. By showing the court that the parent is unfit to care for the child, often due to substance abuse or imprisonment, the child can be removed from the parent’s custody. A child will not always be taken away after an investigation. In fact, in the majority of cases, the child will remain in the home. If the child needs to be removed, you will often get the opportunity to suggest relatives that may be a good choice to care for your child. Otherwise, your child may be placed in a group home or with a foster family.
Keep in mind that DCPP cannot file criminal charges. However, reports can lead to other issues that could result in criminal charges.
When a Grandparent is a Good Custody Option
Grandparents may be a good option for children who are removed from their parents’ custody. The Kinship Legal Guardianship program helps coordinate a child’s move from the parents’ custody to a relative’s home. This type of transition is often less stressful for the child compared to placing them in a stranger’s home.
A grandparent can become a kinship legal guardian, which means that they gain custody of the child and must fulfill all parenting responsibilities. However, the parents’ rights are not necessarily terminated through this process. This is unlike permanent adoption. Often, once the parent completes necessary rehabilitation programs, they can eventually regain custody of their child. Parents will also generally still have the right to visit the child, even while the guardianship is in place.
Getting Help if Your Mother or Father is Involved in Your DCPP Case
If you are facing problems with child services based on your child’s grandparent, or you have been accused of substance abuse, abuse offenses, or another reason for a DCPP investigation that is affecting your family, we can help. Our attorneys have extensive experience representing parents in cases involving DCPP, and we will do everything we can to protect your rights. Contact our team by filling out the fields below or call (908)-356-6900 for more information.