Investigations by the Florida Department of Children and Families begin with allegations that a child or vulnerable adult has been abandoned, neglected, or abused. It is the role of the Florida Department of Children and Families to take each allegation seriously and to ensure that claim is investigated to ensure the safety of all individuals involved. Being involved in an investigation is stressful and causes many to worry about losing legal rights to a child or a grandchild. This, in turn, leaves many to wonder if they should contact a Florida Family Law Attorney to protect their parental rights.
Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) cases start with allegations that are forwarded to law enforcement or directly to DCF. An investigator is sent out to visit the child, parents, and any other adults who may have relevant information regarding the allegations. Usually, at that time, an investigator will not only interview the alleged victim, but also will assess the conditions of the home or place that the incident is alleged to have occurred. Upon review, the investigative team will determine whether there are facts that give rise to the case going to court and whether the child should remain in the home during the pendency of the DCF investigation and court case.
While these types of investigations can involve criminal matters like domestic violence, substance abuse, and child abuse, the DCF investigation and resulting case are not criminal charges. Under Florida Statutes Chapter 39, the State of Florida has a duty to children and vulnerable adults to protect them from abuse, neglect, and abandonment through a civil court, which can result in the child being removed from the home and ultimately to the loss of parental rights. These are serious cases and should not be taken lightly.
The earlier that a Florida Family Law Attorney can act in your behalf in a DCF investigation, the more effective the attorney can be to helping to resolve issues and bring resolution to the situation as quickly as possible. Having an experienced attorney who has worked with dependency matters, and with the multiple agencies that become involved in a DCF case is crucial to helping a parent or grandparent navigate the complicated path of a DCF case.
The attorneys at Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A. have been serving clients in the area of family law and Florida Department of Children and Families investigations since 1957. The law firm has the experience and know-how to get the job done for its clients. A great resource for parents and grandparents looking for some information on family law matters is the book titled Florida Family Law – Enforcing Your Legal Rights & Rebuilding Your Life. This book has chapters on Divorce, Temporary Needs, Division of Marital Property, Division of Retirement, Alimony, Time Sharing, Parenting Plans, Child Support, and Enforcement. You can get this book for free at Florida Family Law Book.
As a case progresses, the role of the attorney also helps to facilitate the parent and/or grandparent to not only conform to the Court’s rulings, the parent’s case plan tasks, but also in affording more opportunities for expanding visitations with the child, if they have been removed from the parent’s care. By working with agencies and showing consistent compliance with case plan tasks, DCF matters can be resolved relatively quickly, and once it is clear that a situation is not improved, safe, and manageable for both parents and child, many families are able to not only rebuild but thrive after DCF involvement, if they maintain a focus on reunification and protecting their legal rights. Working with an experienced attorney to facilitate resolution in a DCF matter will help to bring about the best solution for your family in need.