Can Connecticut DCF Take My Children Away And How Do I Get Them Back?
For most parents, the idea of losing custody of their children is one of the most terrifying in the world. When the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) suspects that abuse is occurring, it can petition the court for permission to remove a child from the home. If you have had your children taken away by Connecticut DCF and have questions about how to get them back or your legal rights, our Family Advocacy Lawyer that covers Glastonbury can help. To learn more about your rights and the steps to take when you are involved in a case with DCF, call our law firm directly today.
How Can DCF Take Children?
As found under the law in Connecticut, the Department of Children and Families has grounds to petition the court for permission to remove the child from the home when it suspects that the following is occurring:
- The child is suffering from serious physical illness or injury or is in threat of immediate danger from their surroundings; and
- As a result of the said surroundings, the child’s safety is endangered and immediate removal from the home is necessary to ensure their safety.
What Does DCF Need to Do to Remove Children from the Home?
As mentioned above, the DCF will seek an order of temporary custody to remove children from the home; however, this is rarely the first step in a DCF child removal case. Instead, it is common for DCF to originally pursue the removal of a child via a 96-hour administrative hold. These holds are authorized under CGS § 17a-101g, which gives the DCF the authority to remove a child when it believes the child is at imminent risk of harm and immediate removal is necessary for their safety. Dangerous surroundings might be established by evidence of the child being left alone/abandoned, evidence of parental sexual assault, or evidence of a parent who refused to remove their child from dangerous physical surroundings.
These holds cannot legally last for more than 96 hours. If the DCF receives permission for a 96-hour hold, its next move will normally be to seek an ex parte, or emergency, order of temporary custody, which can be sought without a formal hearing that involves the parents. Only after this has occurred will the DCF seek an order for temporary custody, which will involve a hearing.
How Can I Get My Children Back?
The most pressing question for parents who have had their children removed by DCF is, “How can I get my children back?”
If your children are taken by the Connecticut DCF, you need to act immediately. DCF cases can move quickly—you’ll need to be prepared.
The first thing that you should do is to hire a DCF attorney, who works in Glastonbury and has experience working on DCF child removal cases. Your attorney will start by reviewing the details of your case, including the DCF’s evidence against you and its grounds for child removal. From here, your attorney can design a case strategy for getting your children back.
It is strongly recommended that you hire an attorney before the hearing for the order for temporary custody. If you contest the order for temporary custody (which you should do), then an evidentiary hearing will be scheduled within 10 days of the preliminary hearing. During the evidentiary hearing, the DCF must/will present evidence to substantiate its claim of child endangerment and that the removal of the child is in the best interests. At this time, you will have the opportunity to refute any evidence. Your attorney can cross-examine witnesses and present your own evidence.
The hearing is perhaps the most crucial piece in getting your children back. If you lose your case during the hearing, your child will be removed from your home and placed in the custody and care of DCF. During this time, you will still maintain parental rights as the child’s legal guardian; however, the DCF could seek termination of your parental rights at a later date. You will have 20 days to appeal the decision if this happens—again, the most important thing that you can do is hire an attorney for representation.
What Are My Rights During a DCF Investigation in Glastonbury?
The DCF will not remove a child from the home or seek the termination of parental rights without a thorough investigation. The investigation is conducted to determine whether the parent(s) pose a risk of abuse or neglect to the child. These investigations can be intimidating and overwhelming, and it’s important that you understand your rights during the investigation and any hearings or other court processes that follow.
First, you have the right to defend yourself against any allegations made against you. You have the right to present your own evidence and call on witnesses who can speak to your case.
You also have the right to appeal any DCF decision. If there is a substantiation finding made against you, for example, you should appeal this finding immediately.
You also have the right to an attorney. This is one of the most important rights afforded to parents. While an attorney will not be provided for you by the state, you should hire an attorney as soon as possible, especially if your child has already been removed from the home.
Call Our DCF Family Advocate Attorney Covering Glastonbury Today
There are few things worse than having a child removed from the home on allegations of abuse or neglect. If your child has been removed from your home by the DCF, the first thing that you should do is contact an attorney. At the office of The Christie Law Firm, our DCF family advocate works in Glastonbury and has represented parents like you involved in DCF child removal cases. Our attorney understands how emotional these cases can be and provides aggressive legal support while also empathizing with your situation. To learn more about how to get your child back following DCF removal, call today at 860-461-7494, send our law firm a message, or visit our office in person at your convenience.