Westport DCF Lawyer
When the Department of Children and Families (DCF) knocks on your door, your mind may be overwhelmed with questions. One of the most important questions you should be asking is whether you should consult a distinguished domestic violence attorney. A Westport DCF lawyer can provide with the answers to the above questions and set your mind at rest knowing that you will be doing everything in your power to protect your family’s rights.
A proactive DCF lawyer will expose flaws in false allegations, work to prevent intrusive questioning that can invade your family’s privacy rights, and aim to get your Westport, Connecticut DCF investigation closed as quickly as possible.
DCF Investigation Process
Westport DCF investigators often receive reports of neglect or abuse from a hotline set up to make it easy for individuals to report suspicions anonymously. When a valid referral is made, DCF investigators must respond to the home in a very short period of time—usually within one or two days.
When investigators arrive, they often want to interview all members of the household, including the children. They will seek to conduct interviews individually, with no other family members present so that they cannot exert influence on one another.
Role of a Potential Client
Although investigators may exert pressure to conduct their interview during the first visit, most of the time families have the right to request that they re-schedule an appointment. When an investigation is conducted by appointment, the family has time to consult a Westport DCF lawyer who can attend their interviews and help direct the proceedings so that they do not cause undue disturbance or invade family privacy rights.
What Rights does a Parent Have?
During the initial visit, it is not wise to sign any paperwork or enter into any agreements with the DCF. Even innocent-sounding documents such as “safety agreements” or “service plans” can have significant legal ramifications.
They may contain terms that are difficult to understand, are unlimited in time span, and can result in someone’s forfeiting valuable parental rights. Those violations can provide grounds for findings that substantiate claims that a home is a dangerous environment for a minor. It may be beneficial to have a Westport DCF lawyer review the terms of any agreements are fully understood before signing.
Full DCF Investigations
Westport DCF investigators usually conduct investigations that can be categorized either as simple assessments (or “FARs”) or more intensive full investigations. The Full Investigation is used in situations that are considered higher risk and it includes interviews or correspondence with all those living in the home as well as personnel at school, health care providers and others.
After conducting a Full Investigation, the Department renders a decision regarding three findings of fact:
- Whether allegations of abuse or neglect are substantiated
- Whether the individual poses a risk to the welfare and safety of the minors in their home
- Whether the findings should be registered and made public in the DCF registry
What are Family Assessment Response Investigations?
If the investigation is considered lower risk, it is called a Family Assessment Response (or a “FAR”). This less formal assessment is supposed to be concluded within 45 days. At the end of that time, the investigator is either supposed to close the case or recommend that the case be elevated to a Full Investigation.
Talking to an Attorney
Westport DCF lawyers can provide advantages during many stages of a DCF investigation. During investigations, an experienced attorney can help prevent parties from revealing information that could prove damaging to the case and redirect or stop questioning that becomes intrusive or violates family privacy.
Families frequently hire a Department of Children and Families attorney during a low-risk assessment to help ensure that the investigation gets dismissed quickly. Attorneys can help protect your children during uncomfortable interviews, and help conclude the investigation sooner rather than later.