What Happens When I'm Served With a Connecticut DCF Neglect Petition?

Getting served with a Connecticut DCF neglect petition can be scary, but having an attorney by your side to guide you through the process and advocate for your rights can be helpful.

How does a Neglect Petition Start?

After receiving allegations of abuse and/or neglect, DCF will conduct an investigation. If DCF decides that the allegations are supported by facts and evidence and that there is a need for court intervention, DCF can file a petition in the juvenile court alleging abuse, neglect, or general lack of care for the child or children.

Where are Neglect Petition Trials Held?

The Connecticut Superior Court – Juvenile Division has jurisdiction over neglect petitions. These “trials” are held in private, not open to the public, at any of the juvenile courts in Connecticut. Any parent is entitled to have any of the best Connecticut DCF lawyers attorneys defend them at a hearing.

Who Defends DCF at a Neglect Petition Hearing?

The Connecticut Attorney General’s Office. An Assistant Attorney General for the State of Connecticut represents DCF, and both the child and the parents are entitled to legal representation. If the child and/or the parents cannot afford legal representation, the court will appoint a public defender.

What Happens During a Neglect Petition Hearing?

A petition may or may not proceed to trial depending on how the parents respond to the allegations. If they admit to the allegations, it is kind of like having plead guilty, in that you do not proceed to trial. In this instance, the child will be adjudicated neglected, which means that the child is found to be abused, neglected, or uncared for, but no trial will be held.

If the parents contest the allegations, the case will proceed to a hearing. At this hearing, both the Assistant Attorney General and the defense attorney(s) will have the ability to put on evidence. Evidence can include documents, photos, and testimony from witnesses. Witnesses are subject to cross-examination by the other side’s lawyer.

During the hearing, the court may order evaluations of the parents and or child and can institute what are known as “specific steps” to improve the child’s situation.

What are the Potential Outcomes of a Neglect Petition?

At the end of any Connecticut neglect petition, the court makes the decision of what to do. The child may be adjudicated neglected, abused, or uncared for or the case can be dismissed. If the court adjudicates the child, another hearing will be scheduled to decide the best option to prevent further mistreatment of the child. If the case is dismissed, it’s over and DCF will disappear out of your life. Additionally, a substantiation can lead to recommendation for placement on the DCF central registry of those who have had allegations of child abuse or neglect substantiated against them.

Contact a Connecticut Neglect Petition Attorney Today

If you are being investigated for child abuse and/or neglect or have been served with paperwork for a neglect petition, it is important to gather evidence to put forth the strongest defense possible. A Connecticut neglect petition lawyer can be by your side the whole way helping you work towards the best resolution possible. For a consultation, call Mark Sherman Law today.

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