Reinstatement of Parental Rights in Connecticut

There is probably nothing more devastating to a parent than not being able to maintain a close relationship with their child. But custody battles are common in family law cases, and protective services may become involved and make recommendations they feel are in the child’s bests interests. 

When the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) becomes involved in your life, your rights as a parent may be in jeopardy. Even if the DCF agent says they are on your side, you’ll want to use extreme caution in your interactions with this agency to protect the rights of you and your children. 

What is Termination of Parental Rights in Connecticut?

In most U.S. states, the termination of parental rights means the same thing. The legal relationship between you and your child is completely severed by the court. If the rights of just one parent are terminated, the other parent becomes the minor’s sole legal parent. The child could also be adopted by a stepparent at this point. 

How Your Parental Rights Can Be Terminated in Connecticut

A termination of parental rights is not the same thing as a custody action. Just because one parent has sole physical custody doesn’t mean that the other doesn’t have parental rights and responsibilities. 

It’s important to note that your parental rights can only be terminated through a court order. This is often triggered by a DCF investigation. And the termination can happen by consent or without consent. 

Termination of Parental Rights by Consent

One of the ways your parental rights can be terminated is if you agree to it. Since you are also giving up your responsibility to support your children, the court must also determine that this is in your children’s best interests. This is a permanent solution to what is usually a temporary problem and not something we recommend. 

Termination of Parental Right Without Consent

The other way the state can terminate your parental rights is without your consent. This is more common. The petitioning party must present clear and convincing evidence to prove that the termination is in the child’s best interests. 

The Parental Rights Termination Process

The Petitioner will file a request to terminate your parental rights in the probate court where the petitioner or child resides. If the child is over the age of 12, they must be joined in the petition. The parties having the ability to serve as petitioners include the child’s other parent or guardian, a DCF or another child-care agent, or the relative of a child who has been abandoned or deserted by a parent. 

The probated court will hold a hearing within 30 days of the petition’s filing. If you receive such a petition, it’s not only vital that you file an answer by the deadline but that you also attend the hearing to defend your parental rights. A seasoned lawyer can help you build a strong and convincing case that addresses the Petitioner’s concerns. 

Is Reinstatement of Parental Rights in Connecticut Possible?

In most cases, the termination of parental rights in Connecticut is permanent. Some states have passed legislation allowing the courts to reinstate parental rights if children remain in the foster care system. So far, Connecticut isn’t one of those states. 

However, if the child has not been adopted and the court believes it is in the best interest of the child, it may be possible to get a Motion to Open or Set Aside the judgment or get a petition for a new trial. In general, a motion must be filed within four months of the judgment. The only time a judgment can be opened after four months is when it can be shown that the judgment was obtained in the absence of consent, by fraud, or due to a mutual mistake. 

Speak With a Qualified Connecticut DCF Attorney

The termination of parental rights is a serious legal step that will impact you and your children for many years to come. If this is even a possibility, you need experienced legal counsel advocating for your interests sooner rather than later. 

Time is of the essence with DCF cases. Parents who procrastinate often regret not taking action as soon as DCF enters the scene. At The Christie Law Firm, we have extensive experience handling all types of Connecticut DCF cases. Our knowledgeable and compassionate DCF attorney will fight for your parental rights and the best interests of your children. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation. 

What is My Attorney’s Role in the Reunification Process? 

In Connecticut, similar to other states, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) is a state agency that was created to oversee services and programs involving child abuse and neglect, child welfare, foster care, and a long list of other issues. DCF is authorized to remove children from any situation in which they believe there is a danger to the child’s welfare, even if there is only a suspicion that something is wrong.

If you are a parent and your child has been removed from your home by DCF, it’s important that you understand that the law may not necessarily be on your side. At the same time, you have certain rights and a qualified attorney can place you in the best possible position during the reunification process.

How DCF Uses the Law to Its Advantage

Unfortunately, you don’t have to violate any laws for DCF to remove your children from your home. But the agency will sure make you feel as if you did.

And case managers don’t care what is in your best interests as a parent. They have the authority to do just about anything without your consent. They might even claim that you have to submit to things like a psychological evaluation or random drug screenings when a court has said no such thing.

Connecticut law grants parents involved in dependency actions the right to quick hearing dates and the right to defend their interests. Too many parents believe that a DCF investigation means they will lose their children for good. But, this isn’t the case at all. With the right plan and strong representation, you can get your children back through the reunification process.

What is the Reunification Process?

When your children have been temporarily placed in another’s care because of a DCF action, the goal is to bring get them back into the home. Called reunification, this is the legal process of getting the family safely back together, provided the courts see it as being in the child’s best interests.

Being involved with a DCF case like this can be incredibly stressful. You are sure to want your children back in the home from the minute they leave. But it may take some time and patience for this to happen. For the best chance of success, a seasoned DCF attorney can help pave the way for reunification as quickly and smoothly as possible.

What is My Attorney’s Role in the Reunification Process?

Connecticut DCF cases involve serious allegations of abuse and neglect. While the removal of your children from the home will be considered temporary, the agency can ask for the permanent termination of your parental rights, which is not something you can have reversed at a later date.

When DCF becomes involved in your life, your first instinct should be to protect your and your child’s rights in the best possible way. The earlier a DCF defense attorney can act on your behalf in an investigation, the more effective they can be in helping you keep or get back your children.

Your attorney will play some vital roles in the reunification process, making them an invaluable part of your overall legal strategy.

Compassionate Counselor 

Living without your children can be tough. You need an attorney who understands what you’re going through and who will give your case the care and attention it deserves. When you’re worried about an upcoming hearing or meeting with DCF or the court, your attorney can and should respond to your inquiries quickly and appropriately.

Fierce Advocate

Your attorney can be the strong voice that you may not have during these challenging times. You aren’t expected to know about Connecticut’s laws. But your lawyer certainly does. They will aggressively assert your rights throughout the reunification process so that you can avoid any unnecessary delays or expense and help you bring your children back home where they belong.

Voice of Reason

Finally, your attorney will be the voice of reason during what is sure to be an emotional process. They will represent your interests during hearings and make sure you understand what to expect when DCF conducts its final home interview before reunification. Your attorney will guide your words and actions so that you have the best chance for a positive case outcome.

Speak With an Experienced Connecticut DCF Attorney

If you have any questions about your Connecticut DCF matter or need help with the reunification process, we encourage you to contact The Christie Law Firm. At your initial consultation, we will ask you to outline your interactions with DCF and create a legal plan to help you accomplish your objectives. Call (860) 461-7494 or contact us online today.

What is the Difference Between Reunification and Reinstatement of Parental Rights?

The Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) has a responsibility to investigate all allegations that it receives of abuse and neglect. When the agency believes that it has cause, it will recommend the removal of a child from the home, which can be stressful for all involved.

After its investigation, DCF can decide to petition the court to have your child temporarily removed from the home. Provide the court agrees, your child might be placed in foster care or with relatives. There is often confusion among parents about the difference between the reunification process and the reinstation of parental rights. Here is what you need to know.

The Reunification Process in Connecticut

The reunification process refers to bringing a parent and their children back together after temporary separation by the courts. As stated above, the child has been temporarily placed with a relative or in foster care, giving the parent time to address the issues that prompted the DCF investigation.

An important distinction is that this situation is meant to be temporary only. You, as the parent, maintain your full parental rights. You also have the ability to visit your children during this period and should do so.

Provided the parent satisfies various contingencies, such as getting counseling or completing substance abuse treatment, the reunification process can likely begin. The court will instruct DCF to complete another in-home interview and visit, and you can receive guidance from your attorney on this process.

Termination of Parental Rights in Connecticut

Unfortunately, the termination of parental rights is exactly what it sounds like: DCF petitions the court to demonstrate why the parent’s legal rights should be permanently terminated. If the court agrees, there will be an order which removes a parent’s rights to the child.

There are several grounds for the termination of parental rights:

Neglect

Most termination of parental rights cases fall under the umbrella of neglect. A child is usually placed in temporary protective custody due to concerns about safety in the home environment. The parent has a limited amount of time to address the issues that caused the commitment.

If DCF believes that the parent hasn’t addressed the issues or rehabilitated themselves enough to provide a safe environment for the child, they will file a petition to terminate parental rights.

Abuse

Abuse is another potential grounds to terminate parental rights. This can be for physical, psychological, or sexual abuse of a child.

Abandonment

When a parent is accused of abandoning a child, DCF can file to terminate that parent’s parental rights. Abandonment means that the parent, while having the means, has failed to make provisions for the child’s support or failed to establish or maintain a positive relationship with the child.

Other Grounds

  • Parent has committed murder or assault
  • Parent has been convicted of sexual assault resulting in conception
  • There is no ongoing relationship between the parent and child
  • The parent consents to the termination

Is Reinstatement of Parental Rights Possible?

Every U.S. state has laws providing for the termination of parental rights. But only 22 states have legislation in place allowing for the reinstatement of parental rights following termination. Connecticut is not one of them.

Once a person’s parental rights to a minor have been terminated, they have no further legal responsibilities or rights with respect to the child. For example, the former-parent would no longer have custody or visitation rights or any child support responsibilities. The only way a parent would be able to maintain a relationship with the child is if the foster or adopting families allowed it.

If you live in Connecticut and the termination of your parental rights is a possibility, you have reason to be concerned. This is not something you can get reversed, so it’s important to approach a case like this correctly.

Speak with a Qualified Connecticut DCF Attorney

Reunification and reinstatement of parental rights are two very different processes. Ideally, your family won’t be placed in a position where children are removed from the home by DCF, either temporarily or permanently. As soon as you receive notice that DCF will be involved in your life, your best course of action is to protect your rights by hiring an experienced DCF attorney.

The Christie Law Firm specializes in helping parents and their children who are the subject of a DCF investigation. Our knowledgeable and trusted DCF attorney has over a decade of experience as a DCF social worker. She will give you sound advice and protect your rights during DCF hearings and interviews so that you and your children are treated fairly. Call (860) 461-7494 or contact us online to schedule a confidential initial consultation.

What Do I Have to Do to Get My Kids Back?

Having your children removed from your home is a heart-wrenching experience for any parent. It’s tough to believe that the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Connecticut court have decided that your children would be better off with someone else, whether it be with a relative or in the foster care system.

Many of our law firm’s DCF dependency clients understandably want to know, “what do I have to do to get my kids back?” What makes the situation even more intolerable is that a single petition filed by DCF usually creates this injustice. Understandably, this feels like serving a jail sentence without a conviction.

What Happens Before Foster Care?

DCF cases can move quickly, which is why you should be prepared and have an experienced DCF attorney who can advocate for your interests. If your children have been removed from your home based on an emergency order, your attorney can represent you at the hearing requesting temporary custody.

There will be an evidentiary hearing where DCF must present evidence substantiating its removal of the child from your home due to abuse or neglect. You also have the opportunity to refute any evidence at that hearing.

If you don’t get your children back at this stage, they will be placed in the custody and care of DCF, which will likely place the children in foster care if you fail to win any appeals. During this time, you will remain the child’s legal guardian and maintain parental rights.

Foster Care is Not Forever

If DCF receives an order for temporary custody due to a child safety issue, your children were likely placed in another’s temporary custody. This might be with a family member or in foster care. When this happens, it can be incredibly stressful for all involved.

But foster care isn’t forever. Children do return to their families with great regularity. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that three in five children in foster care return home to their parents or other family members.

But that doesn’t mean that DCF will just hand your child back to you when you ask or make a demand. You’ll need to participate in the reunification process. If you don’t ask for reunification or fail to adhere to DCF’s requirements, the agency could seek termination of your parental rights, which is something that isn’t reversible.

What is the Reunification Process?

One of DCF’s goals is to “reunify families,” and this is accomplished through intensive assessment and case management. In short, DCF is going to tell you what they see as the problem in your home and give you an outline of the steps to fix it.

When DCF initiates an investigation, they will often ask a parent to sign a Safety Plan, also called a Service Agreement. While you should never sign anything without first speaking with an attorney, this type of contract will tell you a lot about what needs to happen for reunification.

Evaluate What Went Wrong

DCF and the courts have an obligation to act in the best interests of the child. If you want to get your children back, it’s vital that you first understand what went wrong. For example, if your children were removed from the home because it is considered an unsafe environment, what issues lead up to that and how can you avoid similar problems in the future?

Understand the Contingencies

What conditions have been placed on you as part of a parenting plan or court order? If DCF has required that you attend counseling sessions or go to substance abuse treatment, make sure you do so. Ignoring these contingencies will ensure you don’t get your children back anytime soon.

Be Patient and Compliant

While you’re waiting for your DCF and child custody case to be re-evaluated, make sure you demonstrate that you are a caring and fit parent. Exercise your right to full parenting time and visitation with your children.

Make sure that you avoid conflicts and anything that might aggravate the situation. And be as prepared as possible for the follow-up interview with DCF as part of the reunification process.

Call an Experienced Connecticut DCF Family Advocate Attorney

Few things are worse than having a child removed from the home by DCF due to allegations of abuse or neglect. If this is your situation, the first thing you should do is contact an attorney. At The Christie Law Firm, our Connecticut DCF attorney has extensive experience advocating for the rights of families and their children in child removal cases.

Our attorney understands your sense of urgency will provide you with the aggressive legal support you need during this difficult time. To learn more about the process of getting your kids back after DCF removal, call us today at 860-461-7494 or reach out to us online to schedule an appointment.

What is DCF’s Role in Reunification?

When a child has been removed from the home by the courts following an investigation by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF), that child is generally placed in a temporary custody situation, either in foster care or in the care of a relative. The preferred next step would be to reunify the child with their parent as safely and quickly as possible.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that about three in five children in foster care return home to their parents. This is an encouraging statistic for any parent who is currently facing this situation. But there is some work involved to bring children back home. Some of that work is done by DCF.

Granting Guardianship in Connecticut

When the court finds that there is sufficient cause, such as neglect or abuse, it will appoint another party as your child’s legal guardian. That guardian, whether it be another relative or a foster parent, has the power to make legal decisions on behalf of your child and to act in their best interests.

But guardianship does not legally terminate your parental rights. You are still the child’s legal parent, so they cannot be placed up for adoption. If your child has been placed with a guardian in Connecticut, you have the opportunity to get reinstated as your child’s guardian through the reunification process.

The Connecticut Reunification Process

The ideal outcome for most children placed in the foster care system is reunification. The aim of DCF agents who facilitate these cases is two-fold: to achieve the reunification of parents and children as efficiently as possible and to help ensure that the children do not re-enter the foster care system in the future.

If you believe that you are ready to start the reunification process, make sure you discuss your wishes with your attorney. Provided you’ve fulfilled the court’s requirements, your attorney can file a Motion for Reinstatement, which will start the process and get DCF involved once again.

DCF’s Role in the Reunification Process

In Connecticut, the courts oversee the reunification process, and will a final determination regarding whether a child can return to a parent’s care and custody or should be placed elsewhere. The day-to-day management of the case and the in-home investigation is handled by DCF.

When your attorney files a Motion for Reinstatement with the court, there may be several court appearances necessary. The court will ask DCF to complete an investigation before it makes a final ruling.

The DCF caseworker is going to review your entire case file from start to finish to get a full understanding of your circumstances. They will also interview all the parties involved in your case, such as your children, the other parent, and the current guardian.

As a final step, the DCF caseworker will schedule a final in-home interview with you before they create their report and make a recommendation about reunification. At the in-home interview, the caseworker will ask you questions that are relevant to your case and the care of your children. For example, if you have a substance abuse issue, where did you get treatment, and what things are you doing to maintain your sobriety? Finally, the caseworker is going to look around your home to ensure that it is safe, suitable, and ready to have your children living there.

Dealing with DCF again might seem intimidating again after such an ordeal. But i’s important to approach this process as prepared as possible. You don’t have to meet the DCF agent alone, and your attorney can help you throughout this process, which is something our office strongly recommends.

Speak with a Trusted Connecticut DCF Attorney

If your children have been placed in temporary custody by the Connecticut courts, you are understandably concerned and under a great deal of stress. The situation is not meant to be permanent, but the court does have the power to terminate your parental rights, so how you approach reunification is critical to your and your children’s future.

At The Christie Law Firm, we specialize in helping parents and children who are dealing with DCF investigations. Attorney Christie has over a decade of experience working as a DCF social worker, so has an intimate understanding of the process. When you partner with us, we will aggressively assert your rights and provide you with the guidance you need to successfully complete the reunification process.

Call (860) 461-7494 or contact us online to schedule a confidential initial consultation.