If you are contacted by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF), you’ll want to take everything that happens seriously. While the investigator for DCF might make it seem as if they are on your side, a DCF case and escalate quickly. Before you know it, your children might be removed from the home, and you may have to fight the termination of your parental rights in a courtroom.
Termination of Parental Rights in Connecticut
In most cases, DCF will bring a petition before the probate or Superior court and try to demonstrate that your parental rights should be terminated. If successful, the court’s order will sever all legal ties you have to your child.
Most commonly, DCF will move forward with the termination of parental rights in response to a neglect petition. When a child is removed from the home, the parent has a limited amount of time to address the issues that led to DCF’s involvement. DCF can say that the parent “failed to rehabilitate,” which isn’t a fair assessment or reason to make this permanent change in status.
The other grounds that can be used to terminate parental rights include:
- No ongoing parent-child relationship
- Sexual assault
- Parent has killed or committed assault
Is Reinstatement of Parental Rights Possible?
In most cases, termination of parental rights in Connecticut is permanent. Some states have passed statutes that permit the reinstatement of parental rights. But Connecticut isn’t one of them. Your best option is to mount the strongest defense possible. Even better, be proactive in your DCF case so that it never gets to this stage.
Your Attorney’s Role in the Reinstatement of Parental Rights
When another party files for the termination of parental rights, they have only filed a petition. No one can terminate your parental rights without a court order. In fact, the party filing the petition must show through clear and convincing evidence that there is cause for the termination and that the ruling would be in the best interests of the child.
Your attorney’s role is to defend your interests as a parent. The court will consider a variety of factors when making its decision. Some of these include:
- Whether DCF made reasonable efforts at reunification according to applicable laws.
- The adequacy of the services offered to you by the agency to facilitate reunification.
- The fulfillment of any terms laid out in prior court orders.
- The emotional ties you have with your child.
- Your efforts to maintain contact with your child and allow reunification.
- Any obstacles that may have prevented you from having a meaningful relationship with your child. And…
- The child’s age.
Instead of simply allowing the Petitioner to make their case and then waiting for the court to issue a decision, your lawyer can present evidence that tells your side of the story. Your attorney can also call witnesses that refute the other side’s arguments that you are an unfit parent.
How the Reunification Process is Different
The reunification process is supposed to happen before a Petitioner files for the termination of parental rights. In other words, the role of DCF is supposed to be to keep families together. But it doesn’t always turn out that way.
When there are serious allegations of abuse or neglect, DCF may remove children from the home. This can be stressful and terrifying for both children and parents. The primary goal in these situations is reunification, which means the children will return home. But this doesn’t happen without some effort on your part.
The sooner you get a DCF defense lawyer involved in your case, the better. Your attorney can act as your liaison with DCF investigators and help you get your children back. Your lawyer will quickly assess the situation, figure out what DCF’s primary concern is, and help you establish a plan to address the issues.
The reunification process is rarely quick and easy. But it is certainly preferable to getting served with a petition that threatens to terminate your parental rights. Your attorney can be your strongest legal advocate during this process and help you understand what is happening as you work towards the best possible outcome for yourself and your children.
Get the Qualified Assistance You Need for Parent-Child Reunification
When DCF is involved in your life, you need a skilled and experienced DCF lawyer who will advocate for your rights and interests. At The Christie Law Firm, we care deeply about keeping families together. Our seasoned Connecticut DCF attorney knows what it takes to deal with this agency and bring cases to a successful conclusion. We will work hard for you and treat your situation with the urgency and compassion it deserves. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your options.