DYFS Title 30 Cases Apply If No Abuse and Neglect
- October 14, 2013
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Recently, the New Jersey Supreme Court in DYFS v .I.S., A-81-11, reset the standards for invoking New Jersey’s child abuse statute, Title 9, for cases of child custody cases absent a finding of abuse and neglect against a parent. The Court held that the lower courts must apply Title 30 to cases that do not involve abuse and neglect. Cases brought under Title 30 must adhere to difference procedures and standards to determine what course of actions should be taken to ensure the safety of a child in an at risk situation. The New Jersey Supreme Court found that if a lower court determines that there is no finding of abuse or neglect against a parent, a trial judge should proceed under Title 30 to determine if the parent has been “unfit to be entrusted” with the care of his or her child. Under such a determination, DYFS (now formally called the Division of Child Protection and Permanency or the DCP&P) would be allowed to engage the family and offer services, resources, and other assistance to help the unfit parent to rectify the harms that he or she has been exposing the child to. If, over time, the parent does not comply with the services and resources that DYFS provides, the child may be taken away from the parent and placed in DYFS’s care. Essentially, by proceeding under Title 30, the court has a much broader scope from which it can intervene in a family situation to protect the interests of a child. Prior to the ruling in I.S., if a court could not find that a parent abused or neglected the child under Title 9, the action would have been dismissed. Under Title 30, the court orders must be reviewed every 6 months, and parents who have lost custody of their children are permitted to prove that they have taken steps to remove the harm that their child was placed in and therefore custody of their child should be returned to them. In order for parents to regain custody of a child that DYFS has removed from their care, they must comply with the services, evaluations, and programs that DYFS will offer to them as a means to demonstrate that they are fit to be a parent. If you are involved in DYFS case it is critical that you have experienced legal counsel at your side to guide you through the legal process. For more information about DYFS, custody & visitation, or other family law matters in New Jersey visit NJCivilUnionLaw.com and HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney.