Passaic County DCP&P Attorneys
Handling DYFS Cases for Child Abuse and Neglect in Paterson, New Jersey
If the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (“DCP&P”), formerly known as the Division of Youth and Family Services (“DYFS”) in Passaic County is currently investigating your family, is providing your family with services, or has taken custody of your children, you are no doubt facing an overwhelming and stressful situation. There are two DCP&P local offices in Passaic County, both located in Paterson, and the Passaic County DCP&P defense lawyers at the Tormey Law Firm are ready to help you manage any circumstance you may be facing from either local office. The Passaic County DYFS defense lawyers at the Tormey Law Firm have one goal: to get DCP&P out of your family’s life as quickly as possible whether you are being investigated by the Division, if DCP&P took custody of your children in the Passaic County Family Court, or if you have already been substantiated for child abuse and you want to appeal the finding. Our Passaic County NJ DYFS lawyers represent clients in Paterson, Clifton, Wayne, Totowa, Little Falls, and North Haledon. Contact our offices now for immediate assistance at (908)-356-6900. The initial consultation is always provided free of charge.
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DCP&P Investigations in Passaic County, NJ
After DCP&P receives a report, an investigation must begin within 24 hours. An investigator is assigned to the matter and he or she will perform the following tasks: interview the parents, question the child or children, speak to any other person who may have knowledge about the case, inspect the child’s home, determine whether the parents have a history with the Division, review any prior criminal cases, and search for any existing or past restraining orders in effect. In addition to investigating the parents’ past, the Division will also seek to find new evidence by demanding that the parents take a drug test and submit to a substance abuse or psychological evaluation. Please be mindful, parents do not have to undergo any tests or cooperate with the Division. They are free to decline any interviews, decline signing any releases, and are permitted the freedom to reject any tests. Nevertheless, it is also important to acknowledge that DCP&P can petition the court if a parent chooses not to cooperate. Additionally, if the matter is very serious, the Division may also contact the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office.
DCP&P Court Proceedings in Passaic County
If DCP&P petitions the Court, the agency will file an Order to Show Cause together with a Verified Complaint. Also, the parents themselves will be given very little notice about the filing. Generally, parents are told the day before that the Division plans on proceeding to Court and moreover, it is customary for DCP&P to provide the paperwork to the parents the day of the hearing. Thus, the parents have absolutely no time to adequately prepare. Additionally, the lack of timely notice is legal. Orders to Show Cause are deemed emergent and even though the Division has likely had constant contact with the parents, they are not legally required to inform them weeks in advance that they plan on proceeding to court.
At the first appearance, the Court will be seeking to address several issues. First, has the Division established a prima facie case, meaning, if the allegations are later proven to be true, did the parents commit an act of abuse or neglect, or do the parents need child welfare services? Please note, the Division does not need to prove its case at this point in the litigation. They only have to establish that the allegations rise to the level justifying their intervention. The second issue is custody and placement. The court will be examining, based upon the claims put forth, should the child or children remain in the home, be placed with relatives, or placed into a resource home. The third issue is parenting time. If the child is removed from the home, should the parents be permitted to see their children, whether it should be supervised, and who should serve as the supervisor. And lastly, the court will address services, meaning, whether the parents should be attending counseling or therapy.
Following the first appearance, another hearing date will be given in approximately three weeks. This hearing is referred to as the Return Date on the Order to Show Cause. Since the parents were not given adequate time to prepare, a second hearing date will be offered to the parents so they can present their version of the events. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the parents may be able to present evidence that leads to a dismissal. Also, they may be able to persuade the Judge to remove certain restrictions or return the child back to the home. Thereafter, the Court will schedule the case for either a fact-finding hearing or summary hearing. If the case is a Title 9, abuse or neglect action, the case will be scheduled for a fact-finding hearing to determine whether an act of abuse or neglect was, in fact, committed by the parents. If the matter is a Title 30, care and supervision case, a summary hearing will be conducted to determine whether the family continues to need welfare services.
PASSAIC COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT
Hearings for care and supervision, custody, and guardianship matters in Passaic County are heard at the Passaic County Superior Court, located at 77 Hamilton Street Paterson, NJ 07505. The Passaic County Superior Court is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, and can be contacted at 973-247-8000. Click here for more information regarding the Passaic County Superior Court. For directions to the Passaic County Superior Court, click here.
PASSAIC COUNTY FAMILY DIVISION AND CHILDREN IN COURT UNIT
DCP&P cases in Passaic County will be handled by a Judge who sits in the Family Part of the Chancery Division of the Passaic County Superior Court. The Presiding Judge of the Passaic County Family Part is the Honorable Greta Gooden Brown, P.J.F.P., whose chambers can be contacted at 973-247-8441. The Passaic County Family Part also has a Children in Court unit with court staff dedicated to DCP&P cases. The Children in Court team can be contacted at 973-247-8494. Click here for more information on the Passaic County Family Division and Children in Court unit.
DCP&P LOCAL OFFICES IN PASSAIC COUNTY
There are two DCP&P local offices in Passaic County: the Passaic Central Local Office, 22 Mill Street, 3rd Floor, Paterson, NJ 07501, phone: 973-977-4525; and the Passaic North Local Office, 100 Hamilton Plaza, 11th Floor, Paterson, NJ 07505, phone: 973-523-6090. Click on the following link for more information regarding the DCP&P Local Offices in Passaic County.
FAMILY RESOURCES IN PASSAIC COUNTY
Admitting you need help can be very difficult; however, getting help that you need may be the key to getting DYFS out of your family’s life. Whether the Division is involved with your family because of allegations of substance abuse, corporal punishment, or other parenting issues, there are a wealth of resources and family support services including counseling, therapy, and parenting education available to parents in Passaic County through the New Destiny Family Success Center of Paterson 79 Ellison Street Paterson, NJ 07505, phone: 973-278-0220; and Straight & Narrow Family Success Center 101 Cedar Street Paterson, NJ 07501, phone: 973-333-6240. In addition to the family success centers in Passaic County, the New Jersey Parent Link has valuable information for parents regarding health and wellness, developmental and behavioral health, parenting education and family support services.
SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT IN PASSAIC COUNTY
For parents in Passaic County who need substance abuse treatment, addiction services are available at multiple locations throughout the county that are licensed by the Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services. For a list of the licensed substance abuse treatment centers in Passaic County, click here. In addition to the substance abuse services in Passaic County, the New Jersey Prevention Network focuses on providing substance abuse and addiction services throughout the State of New Jersey. If you need immediate help for a substance abuse issue, you can dial the confidential Addictions Hotline 24/7 at 1-844-276-2777 which provides information and referrals to substance abuse treatment agencies statewide.
Reporting Child Abuse or Neglect in Passaic County
New Jersey is a mandatory reporting state, meaning, any person who has reasonable cause to believe that a child has been subjected to an act of abuse or neglect, must contact the Division of Child Protection and Permanency. The Division can be reached through its hot-line, 1-877-NJ ABUSE (652-2873), which is available 24-hours a day. Also, DCP&P can be contacted at the local Passaic County Offices. A person may also contact the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, at 401 Grand Street, Paterson, New Jersey 07505, phone: 973-881-4800.
Passaic County Criminal Charges for Endangering the Welfare of a Child
For very serious child welfare matters, the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office will also intervene and likely charge the parents with endangering the welfare of a child. The criminal statute has two components to it. One section is devoted to parents, guardians or anyone who has assumed the responsibility of caring for the child such as stepparents, paramours, teachers, daycare employees, or even volunteers. If convicted, the individual is guilty of a second degree crime and consequently, is subject to five to ten years in jail and a fine up to $150,000. Also, because it is a second degree offense, it is assumed that the judge is going to send the person to jail. Additionally, if the offense involves sexual misconduct, the person will be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and will be subject to parole supervision for life.
The other section of the statute applies to any other person who was not caring for a child but nevertheless, engaged in a criminal act of abuse or neglect. The offender in that type of case is guilty of a crime of the third degree and as a result, may be sentenced to three to five years in jail and subject to a $15,000 fine. Unlike the second degree charge, the third degree offense does not contain a presumption of imprisonment, nor does it expose the offender to Megan’s Law and lifelong parole supervision. The offense is classified as less severe because the perpetrator was not responsible for caring for the child at the time of the offense. Regardless of the degree of the charges for child endangerment, the consequences of a conviction can be severe, not the least of which include the fact that those convicted will be forced to carry a felony conviction that appears on a criminal background check.
Paterson NJ Child Abuse Defense Lawyers can Help
If you have been accused of child abuse or neglect in Passaic County, New Jersey, you are strongly advised to seek knowledgeable legal counsel. Our experienced Passaic County child abuse and neglect defense attorneys can assist you with the process of being investigated by DCP&P, any related Title 9 or Title 30 proceedings, and criminal charges for endangering child welfare. We are dedicated to walking you through every phase of the legal process and aggressively protecting your rights and your innocence in the face of false child abuse allegations. Contact us at (908)-356-6900 to discuss your case and get answers to your questions in a free consultation.