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Pregnant Women Using Drugs Legally Can Be Charged With Child Abuse

Pregnant Women Using Drugs Legally Can Be Charged With Child Abuse

The Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) is charging a New Jersey woman with child abuse for legally using methadone to assist with her drug recovery during her pregnancy. The defendant in New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. Y.N. had a history of drug abuse following the death of her infant son in 2005. After learning she had become pregnant again, she sought addiction counseling from a Newark clinic. She began her methadone treatment in 2011, after notification by the clinic that the child would be born dependent on methadone. At the time of the child’s birth, the mother’s methadone use was evident and DYFS charged the mother with child abuse and neglect. The defendant clearly did not perceive the consequence of losing her child would result from use of methadone administered legally by a clinic which faced no legal charges for the administration of methadone to the pregnant mother. The NJ Appellate Court chose to look past the mother’s desire to seek treatment for herself and focused on the best interests of the child. The court’s decision was that “harm to the child need not be intentional in order to substantiate a finding of abuse and neglect”. The mother made a conscious decision to use drugs and her desire to cease using upon learning of her pregnancy must be enough on its own as the use of methadone may cause harm to the child. If DYFS is involved in your relationship with your children, you should seek experienced legal counsel. For more information on protecting your rights if charged by DYFS, child support, child custody or other crimes in NJ visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.

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