If your child was taken by DCF, then the someone filed a 51A report, on the basis of abuse or neglect, and the Department determined that an emergency existed and temporarily removed the child, to protect the child from immediate harm. The child can be placed with a relative or in foster care on the temporary basis. if a child is temporarily removed from his or her parent, the parent and the child have a right to a hearing in the Juvenile Court during which they can tell the judge their side of the story. The hearing should be held withing 72 hours of the child's removal from the parent. Both the parent and the child have a right to a lawyer at the hearing, and if eligible, to have a lawyer appointed for free by the court. The parties have the right to present evidence and cross-examine witnesses. The parties can ask the judge to return the child to the parent or to other person, usually a family member, for temporary custody of the child while the case is pending. If this is not a Juvenile Court case, and you voluntarily gave DCF custody, then you should hire a lawyer. Working with DCF is a difficult process, and you should have an expert with you to guide you through that process.
This is merely general information and does not establish an attorney client relationship and is not directed to a specific case.
DCF will be filing a case in Juvenile Court. The court will assign an attorney to you; however, you may hire your own lawyer if you wish. Your attorney's job is to be your advocate. The attorney will find out the reason that DCF did what they did and work on a defense strategy with you. It is critical that you work with your attorney and follow your attorney's advice.
E. Alexandra "Sasha" Golden is a Massachusetts lawyer. All answers are based on Massachusetts law. All answers are for educational purposes and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question.
Your case is very serious because of the number of times DCF has been called to intervene with your child and because they finally took the child out of your custody and the home. Although the court may provide you with a free counselor---I would strongly recommend you hire a private attorney, if you can afford it. Either way, your lawyer will be in the position to examine court and DCF records, investigate all the facts and represent you in court. Getting your child back will depend on successfully refuting the allegations of your misconduct and establishing the suitability of your continued custodial role.
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