Can Grandparents Obtain Custody in a DCPP Case?

March 26, 2024
Our Moorestown DCPP Lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Help Grandparents Obtain Custody in DCPP Cases
Our Moorestown DCPP Lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Help Grandparents Obtain Custody in DCPP Cases

In New Jersey, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP – formerly the DYFS) must investigate every reported allegation of child abuse and neglect and, if necessary, arrange for the child’s protection and the family’s treatment. This may sometimes include temporarily putting a child under the grandparents’ care. If the DCPP finds a parent unfit to provide care for a child, the child may be removed either permanently or temporarily while the parent works to meet goals set by the court that enable them to regain custody.

Anyone can call the New Jersey Child Abuse Hotline to report suspected child abuse or neglect, and reports remain anonymous. In New Jersey, every adult has a duty under the law to notify DCPP if they suspect a child is being abused or neglected, so, in fact, grandparents must do the same if they know their child is not able to care for their grandchild. Often, this is due to substance abuse or a mental health condition. Other reasons a parent may be considered unfit to care for their child include:

  • Neglecting or abandoning the child
  • Abusing the child physically or emotionally
  • Confining or restraining the child
  • Failing to enroll and send the child to school
  • Failing to provide the child with food, water, and shelter
  • Any other actions that have a substantial adverse effect on the well-being of the child

If the DCPP investigation finds that a child needs to be removed from their parent’s home, it will try to do so in a way that is the least disruptive for the child. This means placing children with relatives before considering a foster home. Relatives who assume caretaking responsibilities must go through the process of becoming licensed New Jersey foster parents. This involves screening that includes thorough background checks and home visits. Once licensed, the relative has the right to be involved in the DCPP case plan for the child, to receive services provided by DCPP, and, in some cases, financial assistance for the child’s board and clothing. The child’s birth parents remain as the child’s legal parents.

What Is Kinship Legal Guardianship?

Grandparents or other relatives caring for a child related to them can obtain more legal rights by asking the court to grant them kinship legal guardianship. This arrangement is more permanent than being a foster parent and gives the caretaker many of the same caregiving rights and responsibilities a birth parent has. A legal guardian of a kinship does not have the legal right to grant consent for adoption or change of name. Unless terminated by a court order, kinship legal guardianship remains in place until the child turns 18.

Our Moorestown DCPP Lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Help Grandparents Obtain Custody in DCPP Cases

If you are a grandparent concerned about the welfare of your grandchild, contact the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker. Our experienced Moorestown DCPP lawyers can answer all your questions and help you protect your grandchild. Call 856-210-9776 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we represent clients in South Jersey, including Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, and Voorhees.

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