DCF Neglect Petitions in Wilton

Being accused of neglecting your child in any way can be both intimidating and infuriating, especially if it is the Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) making the accusation. No matter how you feel about the matter, though, it is vital to stay calm and be proactive to the fullest extent possible when facing a DCF neglect petition in Wilton, and to have help from an experienced DCF defense attorney in effectively challenging the allegations against you.

What Counts as “Child Neglect” in the Eyes of the DCF?

According to Connecticut General Statutes (C.G.S.) § 46b-120, the Department of Children and Families can file a neglect petition with a family court if, through an investigation based on either a domestic violence arrest or a third-party report, the Department finds evidence to substantiate their suspicion that any of the following circumstances are true:

  • The child has been abandoned, meaning there has been a systemic failure by the child’s parent(s) or guardian(s) to demonstrate a “reasonable degree of interest, concern, or responsibility” into their child’s physical well-being and overall welfare;
  • The child has been denied proper “care and attention” with regard to their physical, emotional, moral, and/or educational needs; and/or
  • The child’s parent(s) or guardian(s) has allowed them to live under “conditions, circumstances, or associations” which already have or can be expected to severely damage the child’s wellbeing.

Importantly, a child who has been subjected to any of these conditions due to “impoverishment” expressly cannot be considered neglected as per this definition. However, this statute separately defines a child who is homeless, in a home that cannot provide for their specialized physical or psychological needs, or identified as a human trafficking victim as “uncared for,” a status which could also result in a petition by the DCF for further action by a court.

Understanding and Preparing for Neglect Petition Hearings

It is worth noting that parents and guardians in Wilton who have a DCF neglect petition filed against them do not always have to fight that petition, and it is sometimes beneficial to acknowledge that neglect has occurred to gain access to resources and other assistance provided by the state of Connecticut. If a parent or guardian does choose to contest such a petition, though, they will need to appear at a hearing where someone from the Connecticut Assistant Attorney General’s Office will represent the DCF’s position.

Both sides of this hearing may present evidence and testimony to support their case that the DCF either does or does not have valid grounds for its petition, and both sides can cross-examine witnesses presented by the other. A decision by the court in favor of the defendant(s) will result in the case being closed and the DCF dropping their petition, but a decision in favor of the DCF will result in a second hearing being scheduled to determine appropriate action to protect the child(ren) being neglected, which in extreme situations could include the termination of parental rights.

Let Our Wilton Attorneys Help Address a DCF Neglect Petition

DCF neglect petitions in Wilton can stem from a variety of circumstances and result in a variety of different outcomes, many of which could permanently alter the relationship you have with your children and with your family as a whole. That said, you still have rights throughout every stage of this process, and representation from a seasoned DCF defense lawyer could be key to enforcing those rights and getting the best possible resolution from your case. Call today to learn more.

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