Child Protective Proceedings in New York
As a Long Island Family Law Lawyer practicing in Nassau County and Suffolk County, it saddens me to think of all the cases I’ve seen where a child is in need of protection from their parent.
In cases where it appears that a child under 18 years of age has been abused or neglected or is in danger of being abused or neglected, a child protective proceeding may be commenced by a child protective agency. Abuse is defined as any behavior that results or is very likely to result in serious physical injury to the child, or any sexual offense. Neglect is a failure of the parent to adequately meet the child’s educational, medical, nutritional, or other basic needs.
CPS Petitions Nassau County or Suffolk County Family Court for Child
In Nassau County and Suffolk County, this child protective agency is known as Child Protective Services (CPS). CPS can petition the Nassau County or Suffolk County Family Court, and the parent or caretaker that is suspected of abuse or neglect will be the respondent.
Fact Finding and Dispositional Hearings
The proceedings are initiated to determine whether the child is or may be in danger of abuse or neglect, and what action if any needs to be taken by the court to ensure the child’s safety. In certain emergency situations in which there is an immediate risk to the health and safety of a child, CPS can remove the child from the home without a court order. If the child is removed, the parent is entitled to a prompt hearing to determine the truth of the allegations, and whether a less severe action is appropriate. A court will hold a “fact-finding hearing” to determine whether abuse or neglect has been proven. A “dispositional hearing” will occur if abuse or neglect has been proven in order to determine the disposition of the child; in other words, the court will determine what services are needed for the family, and whether the child can remain at home with the respondent while those services are offered.
The Roles of CPS, Family Law Lawyers, Law Guardians, Nassau County or Suffolk County Family Court in Child Protection Proceedings
CPS will conduct an investigation in order to compile a report for the court’s review. CPS is a government agency that represent the interests of the state – namely, the prevention of child abuse and neglect. While there is a strong public policy against child abuse and neglect, parents also have rights and parents are encouraged to hire a family law lawyer with experience in Child Protection in order to protect these rights. Minor children may also have legal representation by a law guardian, who can protect the child’s legal rights in court. All of these interested parties will appear before a family court in Nassau County or Suffolk County child protective proceeding. The court will consider the interests of all parties within the context of the law to determine the best possible outcome given then circumstances.
Possible Outcomes in Nassau County or Suffolk County Family Court
Depending upon the circumstances of each case, possible outcomes include (1) returning the child to the parents or guardians on conditions specified by the court, such as continued monitoring by CPS or completion of mental health or parenting programs, (2) placing the child in foster care while services such as parenting classes or mental health treatment are provided to the parent, (3) releasing the child to a fit and willing relative who will care for the child, known as kinship care. In some kinship care cases, the child will be able to remain in the home with a parent or guardian who is not a respondent, but the respondent parent will be instructed to leave the home for the duration of the proceeding. The court will continue to monitor the progress of the family with periodic updates and hearings.
Foster Care and Kinship Care on Long Island
Foster care and kinship care are temporary solutions to an acute family issue. Ideally, parents and children will be rehabilitated so that any abusive or neglectful behavior ceases and so that children can return home to a healthier family environment. Parents who face intervention by a child protective agency may feel vulnerable, as their rights to parent their children free of state intervention will be threatened. However, it is only in cases of abuse or neglect that the state may intervene against the wishes of the legal parent or guardian of a child. It is important that any parent involved in such a proceeding take it seriously and understand their legal rights.
Contact Long Island Family Law Lawyer to Protect Your Rights in Cases of Child Protection in Nassau County and Suffolk County
Because of the sensitive nature of such a proceeding, it is important that parents seek the counsel of a Long Island family law lawyer experienced with representing parents in such proceedings in Nassau County or Suffolk County Courtrooms. The Law Office of Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., P.C., is experienced with child protective proceedings and knows the rights of the parents involved. If you are involved in a child protective proceeding, contact us at 631-923-1910 right away for a free consultation.
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