Divorce, parenting issues and property distribution are not the only reasons you may need the services of my firm’s family law expertise. In some instances parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends or other concerned individuals find themselves in a situation where they need legal services to assist them with visitation, with a guardianship of loved one or because they or their loved ones have been thrust into the Child Protection (abuse and neglect) system.
I have been involved in situations where the Division of Children, Youth and Family Services receives a report, whether true or false, concerning the alleged physical, emotional or sexual abuse of a child. Once the Division receives a report, it is has a duty to immediately investigate such allegations. They also have significant authority to remove a child from a home based solely on statements made by the child, teachers and even anonymous reporters, if the child’s continued placement in that environment could be harmful to the child’s physical or emotional health. While their goal is to protect children, they sometimes act so quickly that no one has an opportunity to respond to the allegations until the child has already been ripped out of the home. Once this occurs you find yourself immersed in our Abuse and Neglect system which is now handled by our family court system. Once a child is removed, the Division of Children Youth and Family Services are often given sole discretion in matters relating to the placement of the child and who may see the child.
This is a very traumatic event and the Division will often times attempt to question the alleged abuser in an effort to support their theory. They will claim that your cooperation with them will result in the quick return of your child, but this is rarely the case. Unfortunately, there have been instances where the Division has exaggerated the truth or outright lied to accomplish their agenda. Once they have taken action, they will often times use their team of experts to support their initial action even if it is wrong.
You should not attempt to work with the Division without the assistance of competent and experienced legal counsel because your parental rights and legal rights are at stake. Often times the Division will contact the local police authorities regarding alleged wrong doing and a parent will not only be battling the Division to regain custody of their children but will also be faced with criminal prosecution for the alleged acts.
In some instances, a family member will have issues concerning the care that a child (or mentally or physically challenged adult) is receiving by a parent or parents and someone in the family decides that a guardianship over such a person would be appropriate. Our probate court and family court system allows certain individuals to petition for guardianship over a minor if the court finds that it would be in the minor’s best interests. This can be done with the parents’ consent or even if the parents contest the guardianship.
In today’s society there are many instances where there are children who are in need of loving, caring and nurturing parents. Adoptions are an area of my practice that I find rewarding because in the end a child is afforded an opportunity to have the family every child deserves and needs.
Step-parents play an important and necessary role in many children’s lives and in some instances, a child’s “biological” parent may not have contact with the child so a step-parent is afforded the opportunity to adopt his or her step-child(ren). This of course creates a legal relationship between the step-parent and child and once the adoption occurs the step-parent is afforded the same rights and responsibilities as a natural parent. There are also situations where caring and loving individuals find themselves with the opportunity to adopt children with whom they have no family relation.
Family law requires knowledge of several areas of law, to include but not limited to, real estate, probate, criminal, bankruptcy, contract and business law. My firm can accommodate any of your family law needs and I will provide you with the highest level of legal representation no matter how large or small your legal issues may be.