At about the six month mark in your case, you will have a fact finding hearing. At this court hearing, DYFS will have to prove that its claims against you are true. You have the right to challenge their evidence and to present your own evidence to defeat their claim.
The lawyer for DYFS, called a deputy attorney general or just DAG, will present evidence and witnesses to prove that the things it said about you in its complaint are true. Your lawyer should try to exclude as much of this evidence as possible by making objections. An example of such an objection would be, hearsay (keep in mind that a lot of hearsay is actually permitted). Your lawyer can also cross examine all of the witnesses for DYFS.
Your lawyer also has the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses on your behalf. DYFS will have an opportunity to object to what you presented and cross-examine your witnesses. The law guardian will also have an opportunity to present documents and witnesses, the other lawyers can object and cross examine as well. However, in most cases, the law guardian doesn't put on a case.
Besides knowing the procedure, knowing the law that applies is very important as well. If you don't have an understanding as to what DYFS has to prove, you won't know what you are really fighting against. The law will help shape every move in your case. In fact, some fact finding hearings involve facts that are mostly uncontested and the dispute in the case involves differing interpretations of the law.
Understanding the procedure, the law and preparation are the three keys to winning a fact finding hearing. Once you know the procedure and the law, you can then figure out how to prepare. Considerations include: what objections will be made, who will be cross examined and how, what evidence will you seek to introduce and what legal arguments will be made? For the most part, your lawyer will not need your help with a lot of these issues. However, there are some cases where you will be needed to either provide documents, witnesses and/or testimony. Your lawyer has many cases and may not remember or be aware of various issues. Don't make any assumptions as to how the hearing will be conducted. Be sure to understand what he or she will be doing and why.
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