Restraining Orders in DCF Cases

Restraining Orders when Child Protective Services Investigates in NJ

DCPP Restraining Order Attorneys serving Bergen, Essex, and Union County NJ

NJ restraining order child abuse case lawyerDomestic violence refers to a pattern of behavior designed to exert power and control over a victim. In these cases, the victim is an intimate partner or family member suffering an assault or other behavior at the hands of a loved one, relative, or current/former partner. A DCPP caseworker is one person whom a victim of domestic violence might come into contact with as part of the process of their case moving through the legal process. The agency does not always remove children from the home, but if they suspect that the child is at risk of serious harm, they could ask the court to remove the child from the home for the child’s best interests.

If you have been accused of domestic violence by an ex or current partner, household member, or relative, or you are under suspicion of domestic abuse by the Division of Child Protection & Permanency, it is critical to understand how restraining orders might arise in a case being investigated by DCPP and what could result from domestic violence related allegations when it comes to child custody in New Jersey. Getting the information you need from an experienced lawyer handling restraining orders and DYFS investigations is highly advisable if you want to protect the sanctity of your bond with your children and avoid negative findings that could be detrimental to your life for years into the future.

A skilled attorney who defends clients accused of child and domestic abuse at our firm is here to provide answers and vigorous defense in light of your current situation. With offices located in several counties across the state, we provide statewide representation in domestic violence and DCPP matters in New Jersey. In fact, we frequently appear in New Jersey Family Courts in Hackensack, Newark, Freehold, Jersey City, New Brunswick, and Paterson. Call (908)-356-6900 today to receive a free consultation, discuss your case, and find out the legal avenues you have toward a successful resolution. You can also contact us online 24/7 for more information.

Restraining Orders Factor into Child Custody Determinations in New Jersey

In New Jersey, domestic violence in the form of threats, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, economic control, physical suffering, or isolation could lead a victim to file for a restraining order. Domestic violence and related restraining orders are also key for ongoing child custody determinations. Judges in New Jersey use the best interests of the child standard to consider all factors relevant to the child’s wellbeing. This includes whether or not there have been any instances of domestic violence threatening the child’s safety and development. Most judges will consider instances of domestic violence in the context of the physical and emotional wellbeing of the child. Likewise, DCPP places the child’s safety as the paramount concern throughout investigations of child abuse.

When third parties reach out to notify authorities about suspected abuse of children, the agency known as the Division of Child Protection and Permanency steps in. The agency is responsible for investigating the situation, which may involve in-person meetings with your family members and agency representatives. While you are not required to talk to a DCPP case worker when they come to your house, knowing what to expect can be helpful, increasing your chances of a calm conversation in your efforts to respond.

The criteria used when a report of child abuse has been made include that the alleged victim is a child under age 18, the victim was placed at substantial risk or harm or already suffered harm, and that the alleged perpetrator was the child’s guardian, parent, or another person in a caregiving role. If the adult responsible for the child who has not been accused of abuse is concerned about their own safety, a restraining order can be pursued, and this might be suggested by the DCPP professional involved.

The court can also request that the agency complete an evaluation to identify the possible risk of harm to a child before any visitation order is granted when domestic violence has occurred, meaning that an accused parent could be subject to investigations, a restraining order, and reduced, supervised, or no parenting time as a result.

DYFS Family Risk Assessment based on Domestic Violence Allegations

When investigating domestic violence, DCPP caseworkers conduct a family risk assessment.  The FRA includes questions about whether or not there has been any failure on a previous conditional release, a custodial sentence of 30 days or more, previous criminal records or other assaults, confinement of the victim during the assault, the victim’s concerns about future assault, whether the parties in question have more than one child together, whether there has been previous violence involving a non-domestic victim, whether the victim was pregnant at the time of the attack, and whether or not the victim faces one or more obstacles to getting help in the future.

How Do Restraining Orders Affect Parents in DCF Cases?

Restraining orders can be used on a temporary basis to stop the alleged offending party from interacting with the victim or victims and to keep the alleged abuser away from locations like a school or workplace. If a victim is able to receive a Temporary Restraining Order, the case will then be set for a final hearing in front of a judge within a 10-day period. The judge evaluating the case will determine whether or not a final restraining order should be issued.

Prior to a final restraining order being granted at an FRO hearing, which takes place in the Family Division of the New Jersey Superior Court in the county where the TRO was filed, the plaintiff has the burden of proof to show that there is a real reason why a permanent order should be granted. The plaintiff must show that there has been an act of domestic violence, a prior history of domestic violence, and that the restraining order is necessary to protect the victim.

If a DCPP agency worker communicates with an adult in the home and believes that this person is also at risk of domestic violence, the caseworker needs to evaluate the situation to determine next steps. The caseworker might consider options like seeking shelter, working with domestic violence programs, filing for a restraining order, or contacting the police. Restraining orders are not required and should only be considered at the discretion of the caseworker. In some cases, the implementation or seeking of a restraining order is unnecessary to prevent the child or an alleged victim from being harmed. The person seeking the restraining order may, however, choose to do so if they believe they are at risk or there is a significant risk to themselves and their children.

The victim can request a Family Risk Assessment as well, during the process of restraining order review. An FRA is often connected with a Final Restraining Order in a domestic violence case. A judge can also request an FRA as part of an ongoing case, including a family court case in which domestic violence is an issue. During the implementation of the risk assessment, a court professional will schedule a separate interview with each person involved. Each person can give personal details about their situation to the court professional. Documents and witnesses can be submitted during this time, too. Once the interviews have been completed, a report is drafted and a hearing will be scheduled. During this hearing, a judge can make final determinations about the parenting time of the accused party, relying at least in part on the FRA to do that.

Facing a Restraining Order and DCPP Intervention in NJ? Consult a Lawyer who can Help

In cases of domestic violence in New Jersey, both parents should be clear about the impact of a restraining order. If you have been accused of domestic violence, are facing a restraining order, and/or are faced with a DCPP investigation based on related abuse accusations, you should consult with a knowledgeable New Jersey family law attorney about the best way to proceed. It is often in your best interests to have a lawyer walk you through every step of the legal process to protect yourself and your family from rulings that could lead to temporary or permanent placement of your child or children with someone else. In essence, having a legal professional on your side who can provide a better understanding of how these two cases interact and can affect one another, can position you for a more favorable result. Contact us today at (908)-356-6900 for more information.

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