Juvenile dependency cases can be some of the most emotional legal issues a family can face. The thought of losing one’s child can be overwhelming, to say the least. While social workers may claim to have a child’s best interests in mind, there is always a possibility that removing a child from their parents’ care can have a negative effect. If child protective services is trying to take your children away from you, it is crucial you contact a Pennsylvania juvenile dependency attorney from Ilkhanoff & Silverstein as soon as possible to protect your right to your children and maximize your chances of keeping your family intact. For a consultation, contact Ilkhanoff & Silverstein for a consultation today.
What is Juvenile Dependency?
Juvenile dependency cases involve the court’s questioning of whether or not a child’s parent or parents are fit to provide care for their children. If the courts have sufficient reason to believe that a child’s safety is in jeopardy under the care of their parents, Child Protective Services may take action and assume custody of a child until a safe home can be found. While a number of different factors will be considered in the court’s decision, the child’s best interests are of utmost importance.
A child may be removed from their home by the courts under the following circumstances:
- There is evidence that the child is being abused or neglected
- There is evidence of domestic violence
- The parents have a history of substance abuse
- The child’s living conditions are unsanitary or otherwise dangerous
If it is deemed that a parent’s level of care is inadequate, the courts may place a child in the care of a relative, foster home, children’s home, or with the other parent if the parents are not together. If you should ever be involved in a dispute of this nature, it is vital you retain powerful legal representation to protect your child’s wellbeing and vastly improve your chances of securing a favorable outcome for your situation.
Who can file a claim of abuse or neglect?
Simply put, anyone is allowed to contact child services to report claims of abuse or neglect. Many investigations are caused by someone immediately in contact with the child, whether at school, camp, a doctor’s office and otherwise. In some newsworthy cases, neighbors and even passersby have called child services because they believed a child was being neglected. For example, in Connecticut, a family was accused of abuse for letting their children walk to school. Even the smallest misunderstandings can lead to legal problems. For most, a mandated reporter is the origination of a claim.
What is a mandated reporter?
Accusations of child neglect or abuse can originate from a third party called a mandated reporter. These people are responsible to take action if even the smallest sign of abuse or neglect is present. A mandated reporter can include people in the child’s school, including teachers, principals, administrators, and aides. Healthcare professionals, police officers, public library employees, certain attorneys, religious leaders, workers in child protective services, and family members are mandated to file a report when they witness signs as well. These signs can be physical or emotional. Under the law, a mandated reporter must file a claim if there is probable cause, regardless if they were directly caring for the child. Failure to do so can lead to legal jeopardy.
What happens if someone opens a case against me?
If you have been accused of child abuse or neglect, it is important to understand the steps the Children and Youth Agency will take. For one, a case’s investigation should move quickly in order to act in the best interest of the child. For most, an investigation should be started within 24 hours. An investigation should be completed within 30 days but can last up to 60 days under acceptable reasoning by the agency.
Contact an experienced CYF attorney in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
At Ilkhanoff & Silverstein, our knowledgeable family law attorneys are prepared to go the distance on your behalf and make every effort to protect your right to your children. We understand the gravity of your situation. It is our top priority to protect your well-being every step of the way during this difficult time. With so much at stake, you cannot afford to go with a less qualified legal team. Let us put our vast legal knowledge to work for you so you can achieve much-needed peace of mind. Contact our firm online today to review your legal options.