A family lawyer in Paterson who regularly litigates contested child custody cases can help clients defend their right to custody of their children. This is especially important when the Division of Youth and Family Services initiates custody litigation. However, a number of family attorneys shy away from DYFS litigation because the parents in need of representation may not have the resources to afford private counsel. Continue reading for a brief overview of these cases.
Commencing DYFS Litigation
Represented by the state Attorney General’s Office, the Division will commence DYFS litigation by filing a Verified Complaint and Order to Show Cause. The Complaint will seek appointment of a Law Guardian and an attorney will be assigned to represent the child from the Office of the Public Defender. If parents are unable to afford a private family law attorney, one is appointed from the Office of Parental Representation. However, this representation is subject to the parent’s verification of inability to afford private counsel.
The DYFS litigation may begin before or after the child has been temporarily removed from a parent’s care and custody. A child can only be removed from his or her parent’s custody without a Court Order if he or she faces imminent danger to life, safety, or health. The Division must make reasonable efforts to prevent removal of children from their families. Additionally, the Division must make reasonable efforts to reunite children who are removed with their parents, as long as the Court doesn’t rule otherwise.
Signing a Case Plan
In many cases, the accused parent is denied access to his or her child while DYFS investigates the case. In the meantime, the Division may ask one parent to sign a Case Plan, in which the parent agrees to keep the child away from the parent under investigation. However, a parent denied access to his or her child through a Case Plan may file an application to force production of the child. This is best done as soon as possible with the help of a defense lawyer, so that the Division doesn’t have more time to make a case against the parent.