Fairfield DCF Lawyer
It takes very little to trigger an investigation by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, better known as DCF. A minor domestic dispute, a vengeful ex-husband or ex-wife, or a neighbor with different parenting theories can start the process, either in earnest or in retaliation.
Because a DCF investigation can go on for months, it is crucial for a family which is the target of a DCF investigation to speak with a Fairfield DCF lawyer before speaking with a DCF investigator. Experienced domestic violence lawyers are well-versed in defending families against invasive investigations and can provide your and your family with guidance throughout the proceeding while advocating for the best possible resolution of the case.
How a Fairfield DCF Investigation Begins
Anyone can place a phone call to the DCF hotline, or file a report concerning suspected child neglect or abuse. Certain professions are legally required to make a DCF referral when they have even a slight suspicion that a minor under of the age of 18 has suffered abuse or neglect, a non-accidental injury, or is at risk for serious harm. These individuals are referred to as “mandated reporters” and they include:
- Doctors and nurses
- School employees
- Social workers
- Daycare providers
- Members of the clergy
- Mental health professionals
- Athletic coaches
Evidence such as an unexplained bruise on a child’s arm can cause suspicion that results in a DCF report.
Following Domestic Violence Arrests
In addition to reports filed by individuals, DCF investigations are often frequently initiated by Fairfield Police when children are present (or even sleeping in the home) during a Fairfield domestic violence arrest. If police make an arrest on a domestic violence charge and children are nearby, them DCF is required to launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the children’s welfare.
What Happens During an Investigation?
After a referral is made, Fairfield DCF investigators have a specified amount of time in which to reach a conclusion regarding the suspected neglect or abuse. Knowing they have a limited amount of time, DCF investigators often operate under a tight schedule, making several unannounced visits to someone’s home and questioning or contacting family members, health care providers, and teachers.
Safety Plans or Service Agreements
DCF investigations involve a number of complicated proceedings and required paperwork such as “service agreements” and “safety plans” which they will ask family members to sign and comply with. It is vital for everyone involved to not sign any such agreements until an individual has spoken with a Fairfield DCF lawyer who understands the process and this paperwork. Failure to comply with these agreements and plans can make a case worse and may result in DCF seeking custodial intervention in Connecticut Superior Court. It is important to ensure they are negotiated and agreeable to the family.
Hiring an Attorney
A Fairfield, Connecticut DCF investigation can become disruptive and intrusive. It is critical for everyone involved to be made aware of their legal rights and to work to protect those rights. An attorney with knowledge of DCF procedures, questions, and protocols can explain these rights and how to best handle DCF questions in the most efficient and beneficial manner.
If DCF reaches an unfavorable decision, it can be appealed by parents or other family members. A Fairfield DCF lawyer can help determine what witnesses would be most helpful and how to best mount a challenge to the DCF findings. A Fairfield DCF lawyer can provide guidance every step of the way to help protect the rights of everyone involved and work toward the optimum resolution for the family. If you are facing a DCF investigation, call now.