While its intentions may be good, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) in Florida sometimes gets it wrong and tries to take away a child or children from a parent or parents who have been falsely accused of child neglect or abuse.
The media is rife with nightmare scenarios in which children have been taken away from parents for months while child service entities try to determine if neglect or abuse has even taken place. If you find yourself in a situation where DCF is investigating you and may be trying to gain custody of your children, what can you do?
First, don’t panic. While that is easier said than done in a highly stressful situation where a governmental agency is accusing you of child abuse or neglect and may be attempting to take custody of your children, getting angry with a social worker or law officer always does more harm than good. If you lash out or refuse to cooperate, a DCF investigator may interpret that as a sign that you are hiding something.
Remember that anything you say or do can be used against you in a future custody hearing, so maintaining a level head is essential.
That being said, DCF works under the same laws as everybody else. If DCF investigators come to your door, you can refuse them entrance to your residence if they do not have a search warrant. They may try to cajole you to let them inside your residence to prove you have “nothing to hide,” but you have a constitutional right to deny that request if there is no warrant.
Once you let them in, know that they will be taking notes as to the condition of your residence, whether there are drugs or alcohol present and whether there are any hazards in the home.
You do have a right to know what the complaint is about and what is going to happen next. It is important that you keep records of whom you have talked to and what they have said concerning your case.
And, it is essential that you hire a family law attorney. These cases are invariably complicated, so facing it alone by foregoing legal representation is not something you should ever contemplate doing. You have the right to have an attorney present during any questioning.
If you find yourself faced with a DCF investigation, calling an experienced family law attorney at Farah & Farah in Jacksonville is always in your best interests. We will explain what is happening and will work tirelessly to see that your legal rights are protected. If you have questions about your case, contact us online or call us directly at (800) 533-3555 for a free consultation today.