Tag Archive for: attorneys role in reunification

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.