Neglect proceedings are civil proceedings brought by a government agency against parents accused of neglecting or abusing their children. In Long Island, Child Protective Services (CPS) is the agency that brings neglect proceedings against parents, and the cases are heard by a Family Court judge.
If you are charged with allegations of abuse or neglect, it is vital to meet with a Long Island divorce lawyer as soon as possible. Attorney Chris Palermo has experience representing parents in these types of cases and is strongly committed to protecting your parental rights.
When CPS decides a child is in imminent danger, it has the legal right to remove the child from the home. If only one parent is endangering the child, CPS will usually place the child with the other parent. If both parents are accused of neglect, CPS generally places the child with relatives, or if that is not possible, then in foster care. When no imminent risk is involved, CPS allows the child to stay with parents.
The first hearing the court holds is a fact-finding hearing to determine whether abuse or neglect occurred. CPS bears the burden to prove neglect or abuse and presents witnesses and evidence to make its case. Parents have the right to be represented by a family law attorney and defend against the allegations. Your family law attorney devises a case strategy in your defense and may call witnesses and present evidence to fight the allegations.
Sometimes the child is called as a witness and the judge will interview young children in chambers instead of the courtroom. Typically, the court appoints a lawyer for the child, and the lawyer is the child’s voice in the proceeding. Or, if the court believes the child is too immature to have a valid opinion, the child’s attorney acts in the child’s best interests.
If the court decides that abuse or neglect did not occur, the case is dismissed and the child is sent home with the parent or parents.
However, in contrast, if the court finds that abuse or neglect actually occurred, it holds another hearing, called a disposition hearing.
In a disposition hearing, the judge listens to recommendations about what should be done and decides what is in the child’s best interests. Dispositions rendered by courts typically include:
• Releasing the child to the parents on the condition that no further neglect or abuse will occur
• Releasing the child to the parents under the supervision of CPS
• Placing the child temporarily in foster care while the parents receive services to prepare them for proper parenting
• Placing the child in foster care until the next hearing is held to determine permanent placement
If you face allegations of child neglect or abuse, consult with Chris Palermo right away. It is important not to delay and to protect your rights by seeking legal counsel.