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What Is a DCF Neglect Petition and How Can I Fight One?

The idea of losing your child may be the worst thing imaginable. However, that is exactly what can happen if the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) files a neglect petition against you and has success in court. If you have had a DCF neglect petition filed against you, the first thing that you should know is that there are options available to you and you can fight the neglect petition; the second thing that you should know is that working with a skilled attorney who has experience in Connecticut DCF cases is key. To get the help and support you need, call The Christie Law Firm, LLC today.

What Is a DCF Neglect Petition?

When the CT Department of Children and Families has a concern about a child’s safety, welfare, or health, it can file a petition stating that it believes that the parent has abused a child, neglected a child, or is unable to meet the child’s needs. When the DCF files a neglect petition, they must then serve a copy of the petition to the family in question.

Per Connecticut General Statutes Section 46b-120, a child may be found “neglected” when they:

  • Have been abandoned;
  • Are being denied proper physical, emotional, or moral care and attention; or
  • Are living under conditions and circumstances that are considered injurious to the child. 

What to Do After Receiving a DCF Neglect Petition 

Receiving a DCF neglect petition can be extremely scary. You may be unsure of what the petition means, what your rights are, whether you will lose your child, and how to proceed. The first thing that you should do if you receive a DCF neglect petition is to call an attorney who is experienced in cases involving DCF.

After you receive the DCF neglect petition, you will have the opportunity to respond to the petition and attend a hearing, during which time the DCF will present any evidence of neglect that it has. During the hearing, you have the right to legal representation.

Consequences of a Neglect Petition 

The consequences of a neglect petition can be severe. If a neglect petition is filed, it may be filed in conjunction with a motion for temporary custody — this means that the DCF is asking the court to remove the child from the home and place the child in DCFs custody temporarily. There are usually two different ways that a neglect petition is resolved:

  • Commitment of the minor child. If the DCF has evidence that neglect is occurring, they may ask the court to remove the parent/guardian’s legal rights and to place the child in a foster home until further notice. While a parent can file a motion to revoke a commitment order, they will first need to show proof that the cause of neglect and need for commitment no longer exists.
  • Protective supervision. A much better option than having your child removed from the home, yet still an intimidating and invasive one, is for the DCF to ask the court for a period of protection supervision. If the court consents to DCF’s request, then the child can remain in the home but DCF can enter the home to check on the child and the parents will be required to comply with certain court-ordered steps and actions.

What Does the DCF Need to Prove In Order to Win Its Case? 

In order for the DCF to win its case, it must meet a relatively low burden of proof — by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that the DCF must show the court that it is more likely than not that the child is a victim of neglect. Because this is a low standard, it can make defending yourself against a DCF petition relatively challenging. For this reason, and others, working with an attorney who can gather evidence, build your claim, and represent your interests is critical. 

Why Do I Need a DCF Neglect Petition Attorney?

If a DCF neglect petition has been filed against you, the potential consequences are very serious and there is a lot on the line. You need an attorney on your side to help you to understand the process and your rights, build your defense, and show the court that your child should remain in your home.

At The Christie Law Firm, LLC, our DCF neglect petition attorney has experience working on Connecticut DCF cases and providing families like yours with the legal guidance and representation they need. To learn more about your options and to get support during this challenging time, call our firm at (860) 461-7494, send us a message online, or visit our office in person.