Fighting a Rowayton DCF Neglect Petition

If the Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) finds that there is reasonable cause to believe events rising to the level of child abuse or neglect occurred, they will substantiate after an investigation. Following a substantiation, if the DCF determines the need for court intervention, they can serve you with a Neglect Petition.

While you do have the option of cooperating with the DCF and working with them to negotiate a mutually agreeable outcome to this sort of petition, you also have the right to formally contest the DCF’s conclusions in court. Proactively fighting a Rowayton DCF neglect petition can be vital under many circumstances to protecting your best interests and those of your entire family, and you have assistance with doing that available to you from experienced and dependable DCF defense lawyers.

What Happens After the DCF Files a Neglect Petition?

If DCF investigators determine it is more likely than not that an adult they are investigating has mistreated children in their household, they will typically notify the subject(s) of their investigation by mail of their conclusion and the action they intend to take. If you do not contest or respond to the neglect petition once you have been notified about it, your child will be adjudicated “neglected,” and the court system may take further action without you needing to appear in court.

If you do decide to contest the petition, a date will be scheduled for you to appear in front of a judge within the Juvenile Division of the Connecticut Superior Court for a private hearing. At this hearing, the Assistant Attorney General’s Office will represent the DCF and attempt to establish that the Department had valid grounds to file a neglect petition, while you and your defense counsel can present evidence and testimony to establish that the DCF did not have “probable cause” to conclude that abuse or neglect had occurred.

The Burden of Proof During a Neglect Petition Hearing

It is worth emphasizing here that the DCF has the burden of proving that their neglect petition should be enforced, rather than you having the burden of proving that it should not be enforced. This is a key difference between how fighting a Rowayton DCF neglect petition works compared to fighting a criminal charge, with another big difference being that the DCF only has to prove their case through a “preponderance of evidence” rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

For this reason, it is often beneficial to contest specific elements of the DCF’s case against you instead of trying to argue that there were no grounds whatsoever for them to suspect that abuse or neglect had occurred. Initial neglect petitions and “substantiations” made by the DCF are often based on subjective or even circumstantial evidence, and a capable defense attorney can help show that the evidence on which the DCF built their case around does not provide a complete picture of your and your family members’ lives.

A Rowayton Attorney Can Assist With Fighting a DCF Neglect Petition

Being accused of neglecting or abusing your children can be both unsettling in the short term and potentially life-altering in the long term. Likewise, understanding and then effectively enforcing your right to contest this sort of allegation can be key to protecting your best interests now and well into the future.

Fortunately, you have help available with fighting a Rowayton DCF neglect petition from the seasoned DCF defense attorneys at Mark Sherman Law. Call today for a consultation, and click here to read over 300 certified reviews on our Avvo profile.

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