Hanover Child Abuse Lawyers
Allegations of child abuse have serious consequences and may result in long, stressful court proceedings. Therefore, if you believe that your child is being subjected to violence by the other parent or someone in the other parent’s household, you should contact the dedicated family law attorneys at our firm. With over 35 combined years of exclusive family law experience, our Hanover child abuse lawyers can help you through any investigations, court proceedings, and petitions for a protective order.
Additionally, if the Department of Children and Families (DCF) contacted you, a lawyer from our firm can provide critical representation during investigations and removal hearings. Kids, guardians, parents, and those accused of committing family violence have a right to experienced legal representation during child neglect and abuse proceedings initiated through DCF.
What Actions Are Considered Child Abuse?
Child abuse is any family-based violence or assault that occurs within the household against a child. It is important to note that family-based abuse differs from other crimes against children, such as sexual assault by a teacher, and that DCF has the authority to remove children from what they consider to be a dangerous home. Some examples of what conduct the court considers child abuse include:
- Sexual exploitation by a parent, sibling, or household member
- Physical assault such as kicking, punching, slapping, or beating
- Unusual forms of “punishment,” (i.e., locking children in confined spaces or tying them up)
- Shaking a baby
- Forcing a child to engage in prostitution or witness sexual conduct
- Neglecting a child’s health or medical conditions that causes physical harm
- Intentional malnourishment
- Threatening or attempting any of the above conduct
Doctors, nurses, teachers, and religious workers have a legal obligation to report alleged abuse to DCF. Parents and legal guardians are also responsible for identifying and preventing household and family abuse, including sexual assault by romantic partners or relatives. A local attorney could determine whether you have a viable child abuse case based on the type of violence or neglect they are experiencing.
How do Child Abuse Allegations Impact Custody and Visitation Proceedings?
In all court proceedings involving household abuse, including divorce, custody, and financial support, family judges are primarily concerned with the long-term safety and health of the child. This requires a “best interests of the child” analysis, which involves a detailed investigation into any alleged child battery, neglect, or sexual abuse occurring within the household.
A finding of household violence against a child may result in the denial of custody rights to an abusive parent or a protective order prohibiting contact and visitation. Judges, Guardian Ad Litems (GALs), and court personnel must report evidence of abuse obtained during divorce, child support, and custody proceedings to social services. A lawyer in Hanover can help you protect your parental rights if you are facing child abuse allegations or build a case against your child’s abuser.
Defending against DCF Overreach
DCF often takes action to remove children from a caregiver’s home, sometimes even before conducting a thorough investigation into abuse and neglect allegations. Child abuse investigators may subject parents to stringent background checks, interviews, home studies, and even attempt to terminate their parental rights.
Parents have the right to retain legal counsel for help with defending against DCF overreach and unfounded abuse and neglect allegations. Social workers may coerce parents into waiving certain rights and try to use a parent’s objection of removal against them. If approved, a parent within a removal case can be appointed free legal counsel; however, if a parent earns too much money or desires to retain private counsel, they should do so prior to what is referred to as the “72-hour” hearing is held. A local attorney can defend parents’ rights to due process during child abuse proceedings in Hanover, expose unlawful DCF practices to the court, and request that children remain with close family members during juvenile proceedings.
Connect with an Experienced Hanover Child Abuse Attorney
These allegations – even unsubstantiated ones – can change your life. If you are unsure about whether abuse occurred and wish to discuss your rights and obligations with a legal professional, reach out to one of our Hanover child abuse lawyers. Our experienced family law attorneys can help you apply for a restraining order, or defend against accusations of harming a minor during divorce and custody proceedings. Contact our dedicated team today.