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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/s, we'd like to hear your message!
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New Jersey

Happy New Year from NewJerseyDYFSdefense.com!

As we say goodbye to 2012, we here at New Jersey DYFS Defense want to take some time to reflect on where we have been and where we are going. In April 2010, NewJerseyDYFSdefense.com was launched by our founder, Allison C. Williams, Esq. Ms. Williams created this site to serve as a portal of information for attorneys who represent parents in child welfare matters involving the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), formerly known as the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). The site became an invaluable resource for the bar, housing periodicals and scholarly articles published by Ms. Williams over the years. Then in 2011, Ms. Williams began to see a need to expand the reach of our site. Members of the public sought legal advice, information and guidance on how to defend against actions brought by the State, as well as how to handle agency investigations, negotiate case plan and navigate services – either prior to, during or after litigation. As more and more individuals sought guidance, Ms. Williams began to shift her focus from making the site’s invaluable information accessible, to making herself available for consultation and representation. Now, in 2012, NewJerseyDYFSdefense.com has become an entity unto itself. Ms. Williams posts content about this obscure and complicated area of law including social commentary, legal analysis and practice pointers not designed to serve as legal advice. As a result, NewJerseyDYFSdefense boasted record volume, averaging HUNDREDS of site hits per day. Ms. Williams’ career has blossomed. In 2012, she became the first African American attorney to gain Fellowship in the New Jersey Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. She was appointed to a New Jersey Supreme Court Committee – the Board on Attorney Certification Matrimonial Committee. Ms. Williams also took the helm as the Chair of the Certified Attorneys Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association. These accomplishments, while impressive, have meant the most to Ms. Williams in one key area of her practice — i.e., her ability to marshal these efforts to continue to help families embroiled in litigation against the State of New Jersey. As a thought leader in this area of the law, NewJerseyDYFSdefense.com has been cited by the media in evaluating the defense position in matters before the New Jersey Supreme Court. And, most recently, Ms. Williams was recognized as a thought leader when invited to appear on the...

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A Father Wrongfully Accused of Rape on the Katie Couric Show

Thomas Kennedy, a father wrongfully accused of raping his daughter, tells his tragic tale on the Katie Couric Show. Thomas, a recovering alcoholic, neglected time with his daughters before he became sober. Unfortunately, post-divorce, his daughter was seeking attention, calling out for help, and this was her plea. Because Thomas is a recovering alcoholic, Katie Couric asked the question if there was any possibility that he did something – anything – and did not recall it. Thomas maintains that this was impossible, as he never drank when he had custody or care of the children. Apparently, years after the wrongful conviction, the child came forward and recanted the allegation. The only evidence against Thomas was his daughter’s accusation. In New Jersey, in order for DYFS (child welfare authorities) to rely upon the child’s hearsay statements of abuse, there must be corroboration. N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.46(a)(4). But, in Thomas’ case, his daughter took the witness stand, pointed to him and testified that he raped her. And, sadly, many people ask the very question that Katie Couric posed to Thomas – why would a child tell such a heinous lie? That natural inclination to wonder makes overcoming such allegations particularly difficult. Here at http://NewJerseyDYFSDefense.com, we can help parents wrongfully accused of child abuse, including child sexual...

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Spanking + Accidental Injury = Child Abuse

When parents ask, “Is it ‘child abuse’ to spank my child”, the answer on paper is no. New Jersey prohibits “excessive” corporal punishment, thereby clearly permitting corporal punishment that is not excessive. See, N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21(c); N.J. Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. K.A., 413 N.J. Super. 504, 510-11 (App. Div. 2010). However, the Appellate Division’s interpretations of the K.A. case, the first published opinion to provide a framework to evaluate conduct and consequences that will render corporal punishment to be “excessive”, clearly show that our courts have little to no tolerance for parents who accidentally “injure” a child during the course of a spanking. The most recent unreported decision that demonstrates this point is New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. R.S., A-0074-11T4 (OAL Docket No. AHU 09-1698). In R.S., the grandmother of a five year old child spanked him on the behind and legs with a belt due to the child’s aggressive behavior toward his teacher. During the course of the spanking, the child squirmed and the belt accidentally hit the child in the face, causing a mark. The Appellate Division concurred with DYFS that this constitutes child abuse, calling the spanking “willful and wanton” misconduct, i.e., reckless. What made this spanking “reckless”, rather than merely “negligent”? The grandmother should have foreseen that the child would attempt to evade the spanking because he had recently gotten into trouble at school for running away from his teacher. Applying this standard, any child who does not passively and peacefully accept a spanking – i.e., the children who likely need the discipline the most – cannot be spanked absent a finding that the “perpetrator” was “reckless” for using this form of discipline. The Appellate Division also considers the use of the belt to be of significance. In K.A., the mother balled up her fist and punched her child repeatedly in anger and frustration. This form of discipline was merely “negligent” because it did not cause a visible mark and was considered an “ill-conceived impulse”. Yet, a grandparent who makes a conscious decision to obtain a belt and administer discipline is said to have assaulted the child. The age of the child was also a distinguishing factor. In K.A., the child was age 8. The Appellate court in R.S. also mentions the P.W.R. case involving a slap in the face of a 16 year old stepchild. Apparently, one should...

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Allison C. Williams, Esq. to Present a CLE on Confidential DYFS Records

New Jersey, among other states, requires licensed attorneys to attend a certain number of hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs every two years. Many bar associations and private companies provide these programs; however, the largest provider in the state is the New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education (www.njicle.com). On Monday, November 12, 2012, Allison C. Williams, Esq. will be presenting for NJICLE in the Annual Hot Tips for Family Lawyers CLE. The Hot Tips CLE includes a wealth of information from 40 presenters, providing practice pointers for attorneys addressing a wide array of topics. Ms. Williams will be presenting on DYFS issues – specifically, how to gain access to confidential records maintained by the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), now known as the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP). Provided to each attendee at the CLE presentation will be a comprehensive book of materials containing the article authored by Ms. Williams. That article will be available here on NewJerseyDYFSdefense.com in the upcoming weeks. Check back for a copy of the article and for more valuable information all about defense of parents in DYFS/DCPP...

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Heightened Burden to Terminate Parental Rights of a Teen Parent

The New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division has provided trial Courts with guidance vis-a-vis an analytical framework to evaluate the State’s efforts to terminate the parental rights of a teen parent. In the New Jersey Div. of Youth and Fam. Svcs. v. L.J.D., the Court established a “heightened burden” for guardianship matters involving teens. This “special circumstance” of teen parenthood requires “services to aid the development of the child-parent’s maturation” and likely necessitates extending reunification efforts beyond the twelve-month timeframe mandated by N.J.S.A. 30:4D-61.2(a) and N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.54(b). These are important guideposts to evaluate future TPR cases involving teen parents. This 55-page Decision, authored by Judge Lihotz, raises many questions, not the least of which is the appropriateness of “services” offered by the agency to parents from whom children have been removed. In this case, the parent argued that services were not appropriate because the Division did not provide one last service – a Mommy & Me program – that may have been sufficient. The Court rejected this argument – not based upon the program proposed, but based upon the volume of “services” that otherwise were not utilized effectively by the parent. This demonstrates the need for parent-advocates to oppose the routine referrals made for services when those services are not likely to benefit the parent and child. Services should not be rejected out of hand; however, if the only conceivable benefit to a parent in a particular service is to aid the Division is increasing its list of “services” offered to meet its “reasonable efforts” mandate, the service should be opposed. Each offered “service” should be evaluated. Ask for Resumes of Service Providers. Request detailed information about the program guidelines. If the program is geared toward substance abuse, and the parent’s primary issue is psychological disorder, oppose this service being required of the parent. Or, at the very least, oppose the service being included in the list of the Division’s “reasonable efforts” to reunify. In all litigation, cases are won and lost on the details. Child welfare cases are no different. Make your record in these cases by holding the Division to its burden – whether it be the “usual” burden or the heightened burden of...

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