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As a family law attorney working in family court on Long Island, I’ve seen first-hand how substance abuse can affect a parent’s ability to properly care for their child. Every Long Island family knows someone that is affected by substance abuse. In some cases, problems with substance abuse can interfere with an individual’s right to parent his or her child. Drug addiction can result in a charge of neglect against a parent, which is unfortunate for all involved.

The Family Court Treatment Program on Long Island

On Long Island, once there is a finding of neglect in family court and a child is removed from a parent’s custody, the parent facing the charge may be referred to the Family Treatment Court program for support and monitoring as the parent works to regain custody of his or her child.

In Nassau County and Suffolk County, the Family Treatment Court handles cases involving child neglect related to the substance abuse of a parent. This court monitors families with regular hearings for updates on progress and well-being of the family members, as well as regular drug and alcohol screening. The goal of the court is to support the parent in his or her recovery from substance abuse by monitoring treatment, and eventually to reunite families when the child has been removed due to the neglect, all while ensuring a safe environment for all involved.

Family Treatment Court Provides Training To Ensure Recovery

After a neglect charge is brought against a parent, the parent will be screened for Family Treatment Court to determine whether the parent meets the criteria for the program. When a parent agrees to participate in the program, he makes an admission of neglect due to substance abuse and waives his right to petition for the immediate return of his child or children. He must also formally agree to the court’s treatment plan and to abide by all Treatment Court Rules. The treatment plan is determined after a case conference takes place. Attorneys for the child protective agency, the child, and the parent all play a role in the process. The treatment plan may include substance abuse treatment, parenting skills classes, and vocational training depending upon the needs of the family.

Long Island Family Court Treatment Goals

Regular hearings will be held in order to assess the parent’s progress, the child’s adjustment to his or her setting, and the progression of family visits and relationships. Parents must meet several goals before graduating from Family Treatment Court. They have to complete a treatment program, stay clean for at least one uninterrupted year, be able to support their children and complete a parenting skills program. They also may have to find a new job or housing to get their kids back.

Parents stay in treatment court for an average of two years. The Family Treatment Court looks for clean drug and alcohol screenings, consistent attendance and participation in mandated treatment and classes, positive reports from counselors and caseworkers, regular attendance at court hearings, and consistently positive visits and relationships with children. Because the risk of relapse is a hard reality in any drug treatment program, the Family Treatment Court is sometimes willing to give parents additional chances when they can explain or gain insight into the reason for their relapse. But parents nevertheless must show an unwavering commitment to recovery and to their children.

We Can Help With the Legal Consequences of Family Treatment Court

Family Treatment Court can be used as a valuable tool for parents struggling with addiction, but completing the program is not an easy task. While it is a beneficial program for many families, there are legal consequences to agreeing to participate in Family Treatment Court that you should understand clearly before you agree. If you are a respondent in a child neglect case in Nassau County or Suffolk County, it is important that you consult with an experienced Long Island attorney that will help you navigate the legal hurdles of your case and protect your rights to be with your children. Contact the Law Office of Robert E. Hornberger, P.C. today at 631-923-1910 for a free consultation.

To learn more about what you need to know about Family Law Courts on Long Island and how to get help to protect yourself and your future, visit:

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