Fight back against DYFS with a good attorney and win
Unfortunately, too many try to go war against DYFS and lose. The worst part is that, for most of them, it didn't have to happen. Without good legal advice, many people create the evidence that will be used against them. Since DYFS has been known to attack parents of lower socio-economic status, many cannot afford quality legal representation once the case reaches court. With the case mishanlded from the start, the case drags on. For some, finishing the marathon that is a DYFS case proves to be too much. As a result, the children are permantely taken away from the parents. In some cases, parental rights may be terminated. Hopefully, this article helps at least one parent avoid this devastaing, but common scenario.
Fight back right away
Most of the time, DYFS does not just show up at your door to take your kids away and hand you court papers. Quite often, an allegation is received and they start an investigation. The vast majority of parents in this situation do not get legal representation even though they are entitled to have an attorney help them deal with DYFS. As a result, they wind up creating the evidence that is eventually used against them.
Dealing with DYFS on your own can be really tough no matter how you try to handle it. They may inspect your house, meet with your children, interview you, ask you to undergo a number of evaluations as well as talking to neighbors and school teachers. In other words, they are looking to build a case against you. Why? It's tough to say exactly, but I view DYFS as a type of law enforcement organization and most law enforcement organizations that I have dealt with assume guilt first and then look for ways to prove it. As a result, denying the allegations could just make things worse.
If you just give in to DYFS, anything you say can and will be used against you. For example, they may investigate an allegation such as child abuse and quickly rule it out. However, during the allegation, they may uncover another issue through interviews of the parents and the children such as substance abuse. As far as DYFS is concerned, any drug or alcohol use may be considered substance abuse. As a result, you may now be ordered to undergo substance abuse evaluations and treatment. For the rest of the case, you will have your own statements constantly used against you.
DYFS can also lull you into a false sense of security so that by the time you realize you have a problem, it is already too late. For example, DYFS can come to your house to investigate an allegation which is quickly determined to be unfounded. As a result, they leave and it is over. You don't need an attorney right? But then, days, weeks or months later, they come back. Maybe you are having a fight with a family member, an ex-spouse, your child's school or a neighbor. Someone is calling DYFS on you over and over again. With each visit, tensions get hire and DYFS collects more evidence against you. Eventually, enough evidence is received for DYFS to recommend services or file a court case.
The second DYFS comes to your house, you have the right to have a NJ DYFS attorney help you. If you don't anything you do or say can and will be used against you. Much is a double-edged sword. If you kick DYFS out of your house and do not cooperate, you may be facing a court case within a few days. Should you cooperate, your statements and actions can be everything that DYFS needs to take your children away.
An attorney stands as a buffer between you and DYFS. With quality representation, no one will even think about bullying you. Everything you say or do will be monitored and controlled by the attorney. In fact, the attorney should do most, and in some cases, all of the communicating for you. This will prevent you from saying the wrong thing. The attorney will also work with the Deputy Attorney General (DAG) who is the prosecuting attorney that represents DYFS. An attorney negotiating with the DAG can quickly get the case dismissed for lack of evidence.
Services (aka “the system”)
Quite often, the evidence uncovered by DYFS is not enough to remove your children right away. However, DYFS will demand that you undergo a number of services. These include substance abuse evaluation and treatment, psychiatric evaluations, parenting classes, marriage counseling, anger management and any number of other treatments. Worse yet, they may demand that you go to their people who may be just as biased against you as DYFS is. This is where some real evidence is generated.
I have no respect for the doctors that perform their psychiatric evaluations; at least the ones I have seen. In my opinion, they are often “DYFS hit men” who constantly see the worst in people and look to help DYFS take children away. There are only a handful of them and I suspect that this is how they make most, if not all, of their money. I'd like to see one of these hit men write a positive report because I haven't seen one yet.
One service may lead to another which may then lead to several more. It may seem like it will never end. When it does end, it may end in a DYFS case being filed against you due to your drug problem, your mental illness or some other “problem” that was uncovered during these “services”. Congratulations, you are knee deep in the system and it may be hard to get out. Calling an attorney right away can avoid all of these services and keep you out of the system all together.
If services cannot be avoided, your attorney can fight to make sure that any services you have to undergo are limited and that you choose what you want to do. For example, I had a case where DYFS wanted my clients to undergo six different services with agencies that DYFS choose. I got in the case and I took that down to one evaluation with our people. A few weeks later: case closed.
It's never too late to get a good attorney
If you were smart enough to call an attorney right away, odds are that you can get DYFS off your back fairly quickly. Want even better news? It should probably cost you less than a thousand dollars to get an attorney to help you. This is because there is no court appearances which take up a substantial amount of the attorney's time. The attorney should be able to make the entire case go away without much work and thus, with little cost.
If you are now facing a DYFS court case, the sooner you get a good attorney involved, the better. Quite often, I am able to speed up cases so that my clients get their children back within months instead of over a year. While this is much more expensive, the shorter time frame keeps down costs. On the other hand, I have had people call me that have been dealing with a DYFS case for over six months with less than adequate representation. When I ask what has been done, all too often the answer is the same: nothing.
While its never too late to get a good attorney, it may be more difficult for an attorney to come into a case at the last second. First, the attorney has to review the case to see what has been done or what has not been done. Second, it is usually more expensive to fix a mistake (or many mistakes) than it is to prevent it. In addition, the multitude of mistakes will make the case drag out and thus become more expensive. Furthermore, the chances of obtaining a good result will be lessened because keys moves were not made from the beginning. However, when everything is on the line, a fighting chance is better than no chance.
Forget the lawsuit, concentrate on winning now
Too many people want to sue DYFS. I'm not a plaintiff-civil attorney, so I cannot give much information as to how to go about this but I can say that you should not put the cart before the horse. Focus on getting the money together to win your case. So many people call me about filing a law suit against DYFS before they even have any thought about winning the case they are facing now. This is irrational thinking driven by emotion.
Survive the marathon
A DYFS case is sometimes like a marathon. Even with a good attorney, it could last for a long time. Many people get frustrated and without a good person to lean on, it can feel like you are by yourself. A good attorney will be able to handle the range of emotions you will have and keep you in check throughout the case. Being a good attorney is more than just courtroom strategy. It is about being there for the client to make sure they can get through with the case.
Battling DYFS isn't easy. As I have made rather clear, fighting DYFS and winning starts with hiring a good New Jersey DYFS attorney. The sooner a good attorney is hired, the sooner you can get DYFS out of your life. Every case is different so there is no set strategy I can provide here. Instead, if you hired the right attorney, he or she will work with you to develop a winning strategy. All too often, people have a New Jersey DYFS attorney that has no plan. Of course, you must also follow the plan that your attorney lays out. If you do that, your odds of winning your case will increase.