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Allison Williams Williams Law Group Family Law, Divorce, Custody & Support
As an attorney, it has always been, and will always be, about helping people. I'm passionate about my clients and I aggressively represent them. The Williams Law Group uses ethical means to create winning strategies. If you have a legal issue, we’d like to hear your message!
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Do I Need an Attorney to Attend My Child Welfare Hearing?

Do I Need an Attorney to Attend My Child Welfare Hearing?

An Important Day in Court   Being involved in a child welfare case can be a stressful and frightening experience. Your custody rights and your right to see your child may be on the line. While you are permitted to represent yourself in your child welfare case, it may be a mistake to do so. You need an advocate when facing allegations of child abuse or neglect. If you have an upcoming child welfare hearing, you may be wondering how you can prepare. The child welfare case process is complicated, and New Jersey’s child welfare agency, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) can be intimidating to handle. The agency’s responsibility lies in protecting the child, and this sometimes means the parent’s wishes aren’t considered. If your child must attend the hearing, he or she may be appointed a law guardian. The law guardian will represent your child in the case and so cannot represent you because that would be a conflict of interest. And, while you may receive information about your case and the hearing from the DCP&P, the judge will only consider the facts before them and make decisions that are in the best interests of the child. You may need an attorney to help you articulate your side of the story and your wishes. If you question the evidence against you, an attorney can help you obtain certain documents that you do not have access to, which could help you challenge findings from a child protection investigation. An attorney can also help ensure that any requirements the court subjects you to, such as attending drug treatment or counseling, are reasonable, relevant, and feasible for you to meet. Consult with an experienced New Jersey child welfare attorney if you have an upcoming child welfare hearing. It is never a good idea to try to defend your child welfare case on your own. It’s also rarely beneficial to hire a matrimonial or family law attorney who advertises that they handle DYFS cases, but spends most of their time getting people divorced. A skilled attorney who has experience with child welfare cases can help you navigate the hearing process and help ensure you are informed and involved along the way. With so much at stake, it is vital you seek experienced representation to help prepare you for your child welfare hearing.   Do you have an upcoming child...

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How Is a Child Welfare Case Investigated?

How Is a Child Welfare Case Investigated?

Investigating Abuse and Neglect   The Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) is New Jersey’s child welfare agency. The DCP&P is responsible for responding to reports of child abuse. Once a report is made, the DCP&P will conduct an investigation of the allegations. These child protection investigations must begin within 24 hours of a report being made. The findings from the investigation assist the agency and the court system with putting proper protections in place for the child. DCP&P investigators gather a lot of information during an investigation. Typically, they will go to the house or institution where the child is living to speak with the child and other occupants, make observations, and gather information. They can and often do show up without giving you notice. An investigator may also talk to the child’s teachers, counselors, or health care providers. They may also request and review documents such as medical records and school reports. It is important to understand your rights in the investigation process. The DCP&P representatives cannot arrest you or file charges against you. You do not have to consent to an interview on the spot, but you may be required to provide testimony later on in the case. You may also be asked to sign papers. Make sure you thoroughly understand the papers before you sign them. They may include releases that allow the DCP&P representatives to access your child’s records. Speak with an attorney to ensure you have an understanding of what the papers are asking you to acknowledge. You may be able to sign limited releases that limit the scope of information the DCP&P can request. If you do not think an investigation needs to be done, you may ask the investigators to leave. If they do leave, however, they can ask a judge to issue an order that will allow them to continue the investigation. This will also mean you need to attend court hearings to argue your case. The investigators can remove your child from the residence if they feel your child is in danger. This is not supposed to be a first resort for the DCP&P, as reasonable efforts are required to be made to keep your child in the home for stability. Your caseworker may ask you to follow a safety and protection plan (SPP). This may require you do certain things to ensure your child is safe. Once...

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When Can You Ask for Temporary Emergency Custody?

When Can You Ask for Temporary Emergency Custody?

Immediate Protection in Serious Situations   If you suspect your child is in imminent danger, your instinct is to protect him or her at all costs. In some situations, it is necessary to take your child to a safer environment, away from the harmful parent. If you share custody or if the other parent has parenting time rights, however, you may not be able to take your child without permission or a court order. A court order can grant you temporary emergency custody. This will allow you to take your child somewhere safe or withhold access from the other parent, without the risk of violating any of the other parent’s rights.   Temporary Emergency Custody Orders   Temporary emergency custody orders can be obtained in emergency situations where your child’s safety is at stake. If you need to get emergency sole custody of your child in order to protect him or her from imminent danger, you should consult with an attorney. You will need to prove to the judge that your child is in imminent or immediate danger of abuse or mistreatment. An order for temporary custody can last just a few days or long enough to have a final hearing on the case. After a final custody hearing, the other parent may be allowed to see your child again, but they may need to complete certain steps, such as drug treatment or counseling, first. The visits may also need to be supervised for a period of time. You may also get temporary custody if you have been the victim of abuse and have a temporary restraining order against the abuser. This would allow you to take your child with you and prevent the abuser from contacting you or your child. The abuser may be allowed parenting time once a permanent restraining order is issued or even upon immediate appeal of the temporary restraining order’s limits on access to the child. In any case, call 911 if your child is in immediate danger, and then call an attorney. Protecting your child appropriately requires understanding how great the risk of danger is and finding the right advocate for your situation. Consult with an experienced New Jersey child custody attorney if you have questions about temporary emergency custody. The process to get an emergency custody order can be complex, and it moves quickly. An attorney can help you navigate the process...

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How a Law Guardian Can Protect Your Child

How a Law Guardian Can Protect Your Child

Law Guardians: The Child’s Defender   A guardian is someone who protects and advocates for someone who is unable to protect themselves either physically or in legal situations. In court, a child may need a guardian to ensure his or her voice is heard. In certain family law cases, it is necessary for a child to have a law guardian who can voice the child’s wishes and protect his or her interests independent of the parents’. Law guardians are appointed in cases involving child abuse or neglect or when parental rights may be terminated. A law guardian may be appointed for one or several children in the same action. Typically, a law guardian will visit a child at home or at school and may be accompanied by an investigator. The law guardian and investigator will ask the child questions and talk with him or her about the case. This helps prepare the child for court. They are also gathering relevant information about the case. A law guardian may also coordinate expert evaluations of the child, such as mental health evaluations. The law guardian does not make decisions for the child. He or she will serve as your child’s attorney in the matter. A law guardian does not represent or work for either of the parents or the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P), New Jersey’s child welfare agency. The law guardian’s sole allegiance is with the child, though law guardians tend to favor either the Division’s or the parents’ position. He or she will work to understand the child’s wishes, but must present both the child’s wishes and the child’s interests to the Court. These wishes will be communicated to the court independent of the parent’s wishes. An experienced and skilled law guardian will help the child understand the court process, express the child’s wishes, and advocate on the child’s behalf in court. If the court has appointed a law guardian to represent your child in a case, you may want to consult with an experienced New Jersey child welfare and child custody attorney. While the law guardian will serve as your child’s advocate, you may need an advocate, too, especially if you are facing allegations of abuse or your parental rights are at stake. A child welfare attorney can assert your rights in court and help you defend allegations of abuse or neglect. An attorney can also...

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Disproving Child Abuse Allegations: Where to Look for Help

Disproving Child Abuse Allegations: Where to Look for Help

Fighting Allegations   If you find yourself facing allegations of child abuse and an associated child welfare case, you may be panicking. There is a lot at stake. Depending on the findings, you could lose the right to live with or contact your child if you don’t prevail at your hearing. Unfortunately, not all allegations of abuse are valid, and not all parents deserve to lose their rights. Disproving child abuse allegations is complex and requires detailed knowledge of the court, New Jersey’s child welfare agency, and how to challenge evidence. You should definitely enlist some credible help when facing such costly allegations. If you are dealing with the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P), you will want to find an attorney who has years of experience working with the child welfare system in New Jersey. Understand that there could be some surprises and setbacks during this process. It is hard to challenge findings that are being withheld from you or present convincing evidence in your favor. Facing and then overcoming unexpected hurdles may take a lot out of you at a time when you should be focused on your child. Attorneys with experience disproving child abuse allegations will know how to identify and challenge weak evidence or questionable findings. There are many rules about who can submit what evidence and how it can be used. And, in child abuse cases, the evidence can be minimal or inconclusive. An attorney can also do what it takes to present you in a favorable light. Trying to represent yourself in such an action can make it very difficult to do this. This is best accomplished by selecting effective testimony and records that demonstrate your credibility. When the system seems to be against you, the help a skilled child welfare attorney can provide will be invaluable. You will also want to find an attorney who believes in you and wants to see your rights as a parent protected. Your rights as a parent are among your most important rights. To best protect those rights, it is essential to find an attorney who knows how to disprove allegations as serious as child abuse.   Are you facing allegations of child abuse? Williams Law Group, LLC can advocate on your behalf to ensure your rights are defended. Located in Union, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to...

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