No “Restraints” Allowed with Orders to Investigate

In a recent unpublished decision, New Jersey Div. of Youth and Fam. Svcs. v. L.C., DYFS conceded that where the agency seeks to impose restraints upon parental access, parents are entitled to be represented by counsel.  Further, DYFS acknowledged that it cannot secure an “Order to Investigate” with restraints – i.e., supervised parenting time, psychological evaluations, therapy, and the like.  Because of DYFS’s concessions, the Appellate Division refused to reach the merits of the appeal, finding that “the Division conceded error and assured us at oral argument that this was an anomalous situation unlikely to recur”.  At oral argument, L.C.’s counsel argued that DYFS “regularly files orders to investigate containing ‘restraints’ “.  That has been my experience, as well.  However, the L.C. case eliminates DYFS’s ability to over-reach in this manner in the future.