Frivolous Litigation brought by DCPP


When a party to litigation files an action or asserts an affirmative defense to an action which he knows has no basis in law or in fact, the adverse party may serve notice pursuant to the Frivolous Litigation statute seeking withdrawal of the frivolous pleading within 30 days or an award of sanctions will be sought. See, N.J.S.A. 2A:15-59.1. The requirements to seek sanctions for frivolous litigation can be found in Court Rule 1:4-8.

So, one must wonder: Can Frivolous Litigation sanctions be sought against the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) when it asserts a knowingly unsupportable position to achieve temporary custody, or worse, to ratify a Dodd removal (i.e., a removal performed with no court order)?

The short answer is Yes, but courts are not likely to enter sanctions against the Division for many reasons:

1. If DCPP pays out money to recompense parents for its wrongdoing, those funds will not bd available to help other families genuinely in need of services.

2. The time, effort and cost involved in unearthing a “knowing falsehood”, rather than an inadvertent one, disincentivizes courts to allow exploration of the issue in pending court actions, and filing a new court action creates all sorts of problems with confidentiality.

3. Most judges are not willing to say that s/he erred by believing the Division, which is almost universally done in removal hearings. Doing so would undermine the court’s ability to give deference at the start of a case (which will make decision-making that much harder and more time-consuming).

So, should you seek sanctions against the Division, with this great likelihood of being unsuccessful? Absolutely!

Unless and until the court is presented with a compelling pattern of egregious overstepping by the agency, as demonstrated through aggressive applications by wronged parents, errors on the part of the agency will continue to appear as misguided efforts to protect children, rather than part and parcel of a pattern of abuse by the agency guided by its culture of ill-conceived arrogance about parenting and families.

Rome was not built in a day. Similarly, upending the culture of overreaching by the Division will not occur in a day. We must be ever mindful of the need to battle this culture, and the frivolous litigation statute is one way of doing that.

If you or someone you know has been the subject of a wrongful custody action or removal of a child by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (i.e., DCPP/DYFS), please contact us to Schedule a Consultation to discuss how we can help.

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 Katie Couric show to blog on the topic of parents falsely accused of child abuse.

We envision even greater accomplishments in 2013. It is only through zealous advocacy, vocal and visible debate on child welfare topics, participation in the legislative process where these matters are implicated and service to the profession through aggressive advocacy and caring for clients that we will be able to change the Child Welfare system for the betterment of families in New Jersey and society as a whole.

We hope you will continue to post your comments, visit the site for updates on this area of the law and contact us with any questions, concerns or requests for representation.

DYFS Lawyer: All Lawyers are not Created Equal


When a parent is accused of abuse or neglect, or faces the most severe life consequence of termination of parental rights, a lawyer with expertise in the field of child welfare law is vital to parent defense. Many lawyers advertise that they are capable of adeptly handling a DYFS matter. Some are correct. Unfortunately, many more are not.

DYFS litigation is imbued with complexities that transcend basic family law. This area of litigation requires an intimate familiarity with agency law and procedure, Superior Court law and procedure, and the intersection of the two. It requires an understanding of social work, psychology, psychiatry, mental health generally and medical conditions. It requires an understanding of the Rules of Court and Rules of Evidence, many of which differ from those applicable to matrimonial and family law. It requires an intimate familiarity with two key statutes defining abuse, neglect and parental unfitness, and their subparts. Few attorneys have this familiarity.

Many parents seek out an attorney who is skilled in the field of family law. One way of determining if a practitioner is skilled in family law is by seeking those who have been Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney. While these practitioners are deemed competent in the field of family law, they are not necessarily so in the field of Child welfare law. To become certified, one must pass an examination created by the Board on Attorney Certification. This examination does not include any material covering child welfare law topics.

Choosing an attorney is an important step in the reunification and sustenance of families involved in the child welfare system. Parents should be careful not to choose a lawyer simply because they are a skilled family law practitioner or, even worse, simply because they advertise that they are a “DYFS Lawyer“.

If a parent is seeking representation by an attorney with the skills, reputation and knowledge needed to help adeptly navigate the child welfare system, please contact Allison C. Williams, Esq. for a consultation.