It’s frightening to think about the possibility of your child being removed from your home. However, this is a regular occurrence in the state, as the Utah Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) works to ensure the safety of children. While these incidents often involve a legitimate allegation of abuse, there are many times when the accusations are made out of spite or malice, sometimes as part of a contentious divorce or child support matter. When this occurs, an experienced Salt Lake City family attorney may be able to assist you in asserting your innocence.
Removal of a child from a home starts with an allegation of abuse or neglect. The accusations may come from any number of sources, including family members, schools officials, health care professionals or law enforcement agents. When the allegation is received, a DCFS caseworker is assigned to conduct an investigation. This may entail visiting the home, talking with relatives and teachers, interviewing the parent and speaking directly with the child. The investigation can conclude with several possible results:
- No findings of abuse or neglect – The child is allowed to stay in the home and the investigation is closed. Findings and the implantation of an in-home safety plan – In this situation, DCFS is stating that there was some finding of wrongdoing. However, the case worker believes that the child can safely stay in the home with the assistance of some in-home services.
- Removal of the child – In this situation, DCFS finds some wrongdoing and determines that it is in the child’s best interest to be removed from the home. A shelter hearing is conducted and the juvenile court judge decides whether to approve removal of the child. If so, a warrant for the removal is issued. In emergency situations, the DCFS worker or law enforcement can remove the child before a warrant is obtained. The agency may remove the child with the voluntary consent of the parent. Generally, efforts are made for the child to stay with a family member or other familiar party. If this is not possible, the child is placed into foster care.
The Utah courts continue to monitor the case to determine the best course of action for the child. Some possible options include:
- Reunification with the family – Upon completion of a reunification plan, the court can order the return of the child to the family home. A family law attorney in Salt Lake City can assist you in requesting a reunification plan to bring your child home.
- Foster care – The court may determine that the child should remain in foster care, pending other options or the identification of permanent placement.
- Permanent placement – The court may decide to terminate all parental rights, opening the door for adoption of the child by another individual or the awarding of guardianship over the child to another individual.
If your child was removed from your home and you want to assert your parental rights, or you are involved in an investigation with DCFS contact a knowledgeable family law in Salt Lake City. CoilLaw, LLC has years of experience with domestic litigation law in Utah. Let us put our skills to work for the best interest of you and your family. Call (801) 884-3775 now for immediate help.
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