When there is a report made to the Division of Family Services, Children’s Division (also known as “DFS” or “the Children’s Division”), the Division sends someone out to investigate the allegations. Neglect and abuse reports are made anonymously, so the Division has no way of knowing before they investigate whether the person reporting has any ulterior motives or if the child is truly in danger.
The Division will usually call to schedule a time to come speak with you. While their investigation is not criminal, it can lead to criminal charges, so it is always a good idea to speak with an attorney when you are first contacted. You should not talk about the investigation to any child who may be involved in the investigation because you do not want to make it appear as if you are influencing anyone or interfering. If you hire an attorney, they should contact the Division worker and schedule a time to meet with the worker and you together. Whether you will make a statement to the worker or not will ultimately be a decision made by you and your attorney.
The Division can find the allegation to be “substantiated” (there is enough evidence to prove it, in their estimation), determine the allegation to be unsubstantiated, or refer the family for services with no other finding. If the allegations are substantiated there is a very small window for you to file an appeal of that decision, so if you have not done so before, it is essential that you speak with an attorney quickly after you receive notice that there has been a finding of a substantiated allegation against you by the Division.
For questions about the Children’s Division or any other family law matter, contact one of the attorneys at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C.