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Wheaton DCFS child abuse investigation lawyerAlthough spousal abuse and child abuse are unfortunately all too common, there are some situations in which false allegations are made. If you have found yourself facing a legal custody battle based on made-up accusations, you will definitely want to seek the advice of a knowledgeable family law attorney. 

Steps to Take

A disgruntled spouse or ex-spouse may think that accusing the other party of abuse will help win a custody case, even if nothing of the sort ever actually happened. They may involve DCFS, or they may go straight to the court. In these cases, it is of utmost importance that you remain calm and cooperate with any investigations that may take place. A judge will most likely try to err on the side of caution where a child is involved, but at the same time, courts are not willing to take away parenting time without clear, just cause. The worst thing you could do during this time is lose your cool. That is why it will help to have legal counsel for advice and to give you confidence in your case.

It will also be valuable to you if you can gather evidence and witnesses to vouch for your reputation. Friends, neighbors, family members, or others who have spent time with you and your children may be willing to testify, whether it be to DCFS, a Guardian ad Litem, or in court, that they have seen you treat your children well and have not seen any signs of abuse. These witnesses can be great resources in your case.

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Wheaton family law attorneysParents and guardians who experience an investigation from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) are often caught in a whirlwind of emotion. Worry, fear, and anxiety may plague them both night and day. Little can be done to truly ease these worries, but with proper legal representation and an in-depth understanding of your rights, it is possible to increase your family’s chances of a favorable outcome during a DCFS investigation.

An Overview of the DCFS Investigation Process

DCFS investigations can occur for a number of reasons, but they tend to fall into one of three categories: abuse, neglect, or dependency. These are defined as follows: 

Abuse and neglect cases: Can be filed, even if only one parent is thought to be abusive or neglectful to the child. Cases may also be filed based on what is known as “anticipatory neglect,” in which children are considered to be at significant risk of abuse; and 

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DuPage County family law attorneys, Illinois DCFS investigationsWhen you receive word that you are being investigated for child abuse allegations by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), it can seem like your world has been turned on its head. While there are plenty of horrific cases handled by DCFS, there are also many that are unfounded or simply a misunderstanding. If your matter falls within one of those categories, you are no doubt overwhelmed and distraught. Fortunately, you can fight the allegations and it is best to do so with an Illinois DCFS hearings lawyer by your side.

Call-in to the DCFS Hotline

Investigations into child abuse and/or neglect start with a call into the State Central Register Hotline, a call center in Springfield, IL, that is dedicated to dealing with child abuse situations. An employee for DCFS answers the call and takes information from the caller, in an attempt to determine whether the facts support the possibility of harm or risk of harm to a child. Anyone can make a call to the Hotline, including family members, friends, teachers, neighbors, and other individuals. After the DCFS staff member completes the call and necessary paperwork, he or she forwards the information to the agency county office where the child resides to officially initiate the investigation.

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DuPage County DCFS hearing attorneys, child abuse, child neglectIt is every parent’s worst nightmare: you receive a knock on the door and the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) is there to investigate a call of child abuse and neglect. In order to protect children, DCFS takes reports of suspected child abuse and neglect very seriously and will investigate any credible reports. However, just because DCFS is called does not necessarily mean that there is abuse or neglect taking place. Still, it is their job to investigate credible reports. If you are accused of child abuse or neglect, you should contact a knowledgeable DCFS hearing attorney

Definition of Child Abuse

The Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act defines child abuse as when a parent, immediate family member, anyone else residing in the house with the child, or any person who is responsible for the welfare of the child inflicts physical injury on a child or allows physical injury to be inflicted on a child. This injury must cause death, disfigurement, loss of a body part, impairment of a body part, or impairment of physical or emotional health. There is a specific exception in the statute for accidents. It is also child abuse to create a substantial risk of these kinds of injuries happening to a child. Child abuse also includes excessive corporal punishment.

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DuPage County child custody attorneysThe news came out of Chicago recently that the court has denied Amanda and Leo Ware custody of their three children. Amanda, known at the time as Amanda Hamm, had spent five years in prison for child endangerment after she watched the father of her three children drown the six-year-old, three-year-old, and 23-month-old. News reports say that he allegedly wanted to kill the children because they interfered with the couple’s lifestyle of drugs and sex.

After serving her sentence, Amanda Ware married Leo Ware and had three children together. They had custody of the children until state authorities became aware that Amanda was the person involved in the previous drowning case. The couple was brought to the attention of the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services when a doctor recognized Amanda while she was delivering her most recent child. DCFS then took the three children into state custody.

Earlier this month Cook County Circuit Judge Demetrios Kottaras ruled against the Wares in their application for custody. The judge found that the couple was still unable to care for their children, but could continue supervised visitation with a permanency planning hearing scheduled every six months. In the meantime, the children will remain in foster care.

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Posted on in Child Custody

safe and happyThe Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) of Illinois is primarily responsible for all adoptions that occur in the state. If you or someone you know is considering adoption, the most important first step is to seek the counsel of a qualified family law attorney. Not only will a lawyer be able to guide you through some of the more complicated processes, he will be able to help enroll you in some of the services DCFS offers. According to their website, the DCFS is “committed to ensuring a smooth transition as you grow your family through adoption or guardianship, and DCFS offers a range of supports to families depending on your needs.” This kind of assistance includes (but is not limited to):

  • monthly subsidies to assist with the child’s basic needs
  • reimbursement for costs associated with the process, such as court costs and attorney fees
  • support groups and counseling services
  • assistance with healthcare needs, such as enrollment in Medicaid

In the past ten years, according to DCFS, more than 17,000 children were adopted or accepted into the home of a non-parental guardian in Illinois. There are three different options when considering taking in a child who isn’t naturally yours—adoption, foster care, and guardianship. Most kids that are taken into foster care are relocated “because their home life is unsafe,” according to DCFS. “Foster care is designed to be temporary, and DCFS strives to reunite children with their birth families through a variety of supportive programs.” Adoption means that you become the child’s legal parent. It’s a permanent situation. Guardianship is as well but, according to DCFS, “it differs from adoptions because the birth parents’ rights do not have to be terminated in order to appoint a guardian.” This situation lasts until the child is 18. Again, the most important step in adoption is to seek the assistance of a legal professional. Contact a dedicated Illinois family law attorney today.

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