The most troubling issues of family law involve accusations of child abuse. At Bozanian McGregor LLC, our child protection defense attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of children, but also the rights of parents who have been falsely accused of harming their own offspring. Of course, it is not the children, but their distraught parents, who contact us for help.

If we are contacted by a parent who needs protection from unjust accusations of child abuse and neglect, our skilled child protection attorneys are here to help. We realize an allegation of abuse can be traumatic not only to the parent facing legal penalties but to the child facing a misrepresentation of their involvement and the possible loss of rights, liberties, custody, and parenting time.

Guardianship for Minors

More often than you might imagine, relatives and close family friends are called upon to care for children whose parents are unable to do so. In such situations, we assist in creating kinship legal guardianships in which a suitable adult becomes the guardian of the minor child, then known as the “ward.”

Why Some New Jersey Children Need Guardians

There are several reasons parents may not be up to the task of caring for their own child, including:

  • Physical incapacity 
  • Untimely death
  • Mental illness
  • Addiction
  • Neglect or abuse of the child
  • Incarceration
  • Economic hardship

If the situation does not resolve quickly and becomes a long-term problem, it may be necessary to formalize the arrangement by having the caretaker become the child’s legal guardian. Our skilled attorneys will do the legwork to establish a kinship legal guardianship in which you officially take over the child’s care. Though there is always pain involved in the process, having a legal guardian can afford the minor child the guidance, emotional sustenance, and stability every child needs. 

What Makes a Minor Eligible for Guardianship in New Jersey?

A minor child in your care becomes eligible for guardianship in the following situations:

  1. The child has been under your care for at least 12 months
  2. The birth parents can no longer care for the child
  3. You are related to or a close family friend of the child
  4. You have the financial ability to properly care for the child
  5. The court establishes that guardianship is in the child’s best interests

Once appointed guardian, you will effectively assume the parental role, having the authority to make decisions about the child’s health (including emergency medical care), education (including applying to college), safety, and general well-being. You may also qualify for state subsidies to assist in covering child-rearing costs. 

While the birth parents will no longer have custody of their child, since this is a guardianship and not an adoption, they will retain certain legal rights and responsibilities. For instance, they will still have visitation rights and will remain responsible for offering their child financial support to the extent possible. It should also be noted that the child may not be given up for adoption or have their legal name changed, without parental consent.

Protecting New Jersey Parents From False Accusations of Child Abuse

Sadly, false accusations of child abuse are all too common among divorcing couples, especially when there is a great deal of animosity and hostility. Such accusations can be made out of anger as a form of retaliation and punishment or used as a means of manipulation to win child custody and interfere with a parent’s parenting time rights.

These accusations are detrimental to the child’s well-being, trust, and stability. Our child protection attorneys have the experience and skills to get to the truth and to protect the wrongfully accused parent from legal penalties and the potential alienation from their child.

When Guardianship for a Minor Is an Urgent Matter

When parents are unable to care for their child because of an emergency, health-related or otherwise, the court can grant a family member or close family friend emergency guardianship to make sure the child is well-tended while the parents are unavailable. Such a guardianship is intended to be temporary, typically not to last longer than one year, but may be changed to a kinship legal guardianship if it becomes necessary. 

How Our Skilled New Jersey Child Protection Attorneys Defend You

If you are living in a contentious environment, we can help you take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your child from lies that threaten to separate you from one another, and possibly subject you to harsh penalties that may include:

  • Loss of child custody
  • Diminished and/or only supervised parenting time 
  • Heavy fines
  • Incarceration
  • Potential Impact Upon Employment Licensing

If you are being falsely accused by The DCPP of abusing or neglecting your child, the jeopardy to your family is also real. Your child will certainly be frightened and confused by the lies being told and overwhelmed by feeling disloyal to one parent or the other no matter what they do.

We will help you by taking your side in the dispute and doing the following to prove your case:

  • Gather evidence — written, photographed, videotaped — that shows evidence of your warm, loving relationship with your child
  • Collect witness accounts from friends, relatives, or neighbors supporting your side of the story
  • Get substantiated reports from teachers, counselors, doctors, and therapists attesting to the healthy relationship between you and your child

At Bozanian McGregor LLC, we are aware that child protection matters are private and confidential and that they must be handled with care and compassion. You can trust us to treat your child protection issues with the sensitivity and discretion they deserve.

The Complications That Arise When DCPP of New Jersey Gets Involved

The New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) is the state agency tasked with protecting the rights and safety of children. As such, it is the child welfare agency that investigates allegations of child abuse and neglect. 

Once an official complaint is made and the DCPP is called to investigate, the costs to the family — legal, financial, and emotional — can be enormous. Divorce is stressful enough, but contemplating, let alone actually experiencing, the removal of a child or parent from the home is the very definition of insecurity to a child, and will undoubtedly result in a lifetime of negative repercussions. 

Fortunately, our attorneys have been through this all before. We are familiar with New Jersey child protection laws and work routinely with the personnel at DCPP, so we are able to have frank conversations with them and negotiate on reasonable terms.

This is why it is critical to get in touch with our offices at the first sign that the turmoil in your family is taking a dangerous turn toward threats and accusations with the DCPP. It is best to make an appointment to speak to one of our knowledgeable professionals before things get out of hand. The sooner we are able to intervene and negotiate with your spouse’s attorney, the more likely we are to keep the sparks of anger and disturbance from becoming a conflagration.

Even when DCPP isn’t involved, repeated accusations can do severe damage. Divorce cases are typically civil cases in which parental rights to custody or parenting time may be disputed. If accusations of abuse or neglect enter the picture, however, DCPP case workers may seek the help of police investigators to determine whether the misconduct actually occurred and who the perpetrator is. If this occurs, there is the possibility that your case may become a criminal investigation with all the tumult and distress that accompany such cases.

The Charges We Will Defend You Against

Charges of child abuse are often difficult to prove. The prosecution must convince the court that the offending parent has:

  1. Physically injured the child or allowed the child to be injured
  2. Created a substantial or ongoing risk of physical injury
  3. Sexually abused the child or allowed the child to be sexually abused
  4. Willfully abandoned the child
  5. Failed to supply the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, education or medical care
  6. Inflicted harm through excessive corporal punishment

As long as the prosecution cannot show evidence of any of the above, they will, in all probability, have to drop the case of physical or sexual abuse against you. Accusations of emotional abuse are another matter. While difficult to prove, it is also difficult to defend against. Nonetheless, our child protection defense attorneys have a strong track record of positive outcomes with clients accused of child abuse. 

If your child is well-adjusted and doing well in school and other settings, the accusations against you will likely fall flat. Besides, we will have witnesses and other evidence to support your innocence.

Contact Our Child Protection/DCPP Defense Attorneys Today

We will provide you with a vigorous defense against false accusations of child abuse and do everything in our power to keep your relationship with your child as strong as ever. Contact us now so we can begin working on a winning strategy to protect you and the child you love.