Family Reunification After Accusations of Child Abuse

May 21, 2024
Contact a South Jersey DCPP Lawyer at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker for Help With Reunification
Contact a South Jersey DCPP Lawyer at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker for Help With Reunification

Having your children taken from you is one of the most challenging experiences that you can endure. As a parent, you have legal rights, even if your children are not in your home. If your children have been placed in foster care, you will undergo periodic evaluations, where caseworkers may determine whether your children can be returned to you. Do not lose heart. In New Jersey, roughly 50 percent of children who are taken out of a home and placed in foster care are eventually returned to their parents.

The Intent of Family Reunification in New Jersey

The Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) protects children and removes them from situations where they can face danger. However, their goal is not necessarily to permanently remove a child from a home. The intent is usually to reunite a family when the threat has passed or when a parent can better provide a safe environment. To that end, DCPP has a reunification program that can assist families and children when the child is reintegrated into their home environment.

DCPP may move for permanency for a child, whether placing them in a foster home indefinitely or allowing them to return to your home permanently. DCPP has one year from the date of removal to present a plan for permanency to the court. During this time, you would need to address the circumstances that prompted DCPP to remove the child from your home in the first place.

There Have to Be Reasonable Efforts to Reunify

New Jersey case law states that the DCPP must make reasonable efforts at reunification unless there are “aggravating circumstances.” DCPP may find aggravated circumstances in situations where the abuse that prompted the removal from the home in the first place was egregious or heinous. Aggravating circumstances may also exist when the circumstances created by the parent’s conduct create an unacceptably high risk to the child’s health, safety, and welfare.

You may need a court hearing to begin getting your children back in your home. You will need to persuade the DCPP that your circumstances have changed. You would need to prove that you have taken steps to change the situation in a way that would merit reunification. Every three months after a child is placed in a foster home, there will be a reunification evaluation to determine whether there has been parental progress or stagnation. It is possible to show DCPP and the court that you have changed and that your parental rights should be restored. You should hire an experienced attorney to give you legal advice and help you persuade DCPP that you should have your children back after accusations of child abuse or neglect.

Reunification Could Happen Gradually Over Time

Even if DCPP and the court determine that your parental rights should be restored, it may not happen all at once. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all reunification plan. DCPP will tailor the plan to your family and individual circumstances. Your children may be returned to you gradually with visitation and overnight stays. You and your children may take some time to restore your relationship. Courts may order therapy or other forms of intervention to help build the relationship. The hope is that you would not need to go through the process again, as removal from your home would never be an issue.

Contact a South Jersey DCPP Lawyer at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker for Help With Reunification

If your children have been taken from your home, a South Jersey DCPP lawyer at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker can help stand up for your rights as a parent. You must speak to an attorney as soon as possible. To schedule a consultation, call us today at 856-210-9776 or contact us online. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we work with clients in South Jersey, including Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, and Voorhees.

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