If the Department of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) concludes an investigation of child abuse or neglect with a “substantiated” determination, the agency has found extensive evidence that the child in question has suffered or is at risk of harm. Unfortunately, in these circumstances, the DCPP may seek a court order terminating the parental rights of the defendant parents or guardians over the child.

However, the DCPP has a very high burden of proof they must overcome in order to achieve this outcome, and there are various ways that the parents or guardians could potentially challenge the DCPP’s case against them. If you are facing accusations of this severity, speaking with a diligent defense lawyer sooner rather than later about defenses against the termination of parental rights in Hackensack could be in your best interests.

Grounds for the Termination of Parental Rights

New Jersey Revised Statutes §30:4C-15 defines five circumstances under which a state court may involuntarily terminate parental rights:

  • A criminal conviction for murder, aggravated manslaughter, or manslaughter of the other parent; conspiracy to commit such a crime against the other parent or the child; or causation of serious bodily injury to the other parent or the child
  • Willful abandonment of the child
  • Court conviction of abusing, neglecting, and/or cruelly treating the child
  • Failure to address circumstances that previously led to the child being removed from the home within one year of that removal, even with physical and financial means of doing so and assistance from the Department of Children and Families
  • Placing the child under guardianship would serve the child’s best interests

After establishing one of these grounds, the DCPP must then prove that the defendant has harmed the child in question and will not stop harming the child in the future, that the DCPP has exhausted all other options for remedying the issue, and that removal would help the child in question more than it would harm them.

How to Contest DCPP Findings

Defending against the termination of parental rights in Hackensack is a time-intensive process that centers around disproving one or more of the aforementioned grounds for removal. The most straightforward way of contesting efforts by the DCPP is by demonstrating that doing so would not actually serve the child’s interests.

Likewise, it may be possible to challenge this kind of effort by affirming that the defendant parent(s) or guardian(s) have made and are continuing to make efforts to resolve the issues, contrary to the DCPP’s claims. Finally, it may be the case in some situations that the DCPP is pursuing the termination of parental rights before such an extreme response would be strictly warranted.

A Hackensack Attorney Could Build a Defense Against the Termination of Parental Rights

Any substantiation of child abuse or neglect claims by the DCPP is an extraordinarily serious matter. Depending on the circumstances, the DCPP may use this finding as a reason to remove your child from your care permanently, which would take away your legal rights as their parent in the process.

During a private consultation, a skilled attorney could provide applicable defenses to the termination of parental rights in Hackensack based on your unique circumstances. Call the firm today to learn more and to get started on protecting your rights as a parent.