Westport DCF Lawyer

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) has broad authority in Connecticut to investigate reports of child abuse or neglect following either a third-party report or an arrest for domestic violence when children are potentially at risk.  In both scenarios, DCF investigators can visit your home without warning, will look to conduct interviews with your children and potentially other people in your life, and may recommend juvenile or family court action against you if their suspicions are “substantiated” by evidence their investigation turns up.

You should know, though, that you still have numerous important rights if you find yourself the subject of this sort of investigation, and among them is the right to have representation from an experienced defense attorney. No matter what circumstances led to DCF investigating you in the first place, a skilled Westport DCF lawyer can provide vital assistance throughout any action the Department takes involving you.

What Could a DCF Investigation Lead To?

It is worth emphasizing that DCF opening an investigation into someone based on a family violence arrest or third-party report does not guarantee that the Department will recommend legal action against the person or people they are investigating. In fact, it is not uncommon—especially for people represented by knowledgeable Westport DCF attorneys—for DCF investigations to end with the underlying allegations being “unsubstantiated” and the case being closed without any further consequences.

On the other hand, if a DCF investigation “substantiates” the Department’s suspicions of neglect or abuse, they can continue to send social workers on home visits for several months after the investigation ends, add the investigated person to their Central Registry, and potentially petition a court for further action which may include removal of custody rights. That said, it is also possible to appeal against “substantiated” findings when applicable with help from experienced legal counsel.

Enforcing Legal Rights During a DCF Investigation

While it is generally best to be cooperative and honest with DCF investigators to the fullest extent possible while an investigation is ongoing, it should be emphasized that people under investigation by the Department are not legally required to speak with investigators themselves. Anything you say can be used against you, so even a comment taken out of context can result in adverse consequences. Things get a bit more complicated when it comes to the DCF interviewing potentially impacted children, but a DCF lawyer in Westport may be able to negotiate for those interviews to only take place under specific conditions and/or only with legal counsel present.

That said, a DCF investigation is not a criminal proceeding, which means that the standard of proof that investigators must meet to recommend remedial or disciplinary action is not “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Instead, as with most other civil and family court proceedings, the standard of proof for DCF investigations is “reasonable cause,” a relatively low standard.

Additionally, the state of Connecticut will not provide legal counsel free of charge to anyone deemed worthy of investigation by the DCF, even if the investigation began due to criminal charges for alleged family violence. That makes it even more important than usual to seek help from a private DCF lawyer in Westport as soon as possible after an investigation begins.

Contact a Westport DCF Attorney for Assistance

While DCF authorities have a good deal of influence in Connecticut, that influence is not unlimited by any means. It is possible to approach a DCF investigation proactively and give yourself a better chance of a favorable result, particularly if you have support from capable legal counsel.

Working with a Westport DCF lawyer can make a world of difference in how your experience with DCF concludes and what effects it does or does not have on your and your family’s lives. Call today to learn more.

Client Reviews


I found Mark Sherman after doing an extensive search for DCF attorneys on the internet. He is without a doubt the most honest and straightforward attorney I have ever met. Rather than trying to push us towards an expensive engagement...

- Robert E
Submit a Law Firm Client Review