Not all family law cases are simple. In some highly litigious family law cases involving child custody battles, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) may get involved. DCFS may assign a social worker with the task of investigating your family for possible abuse or neglect. It should be noted, that a family law matter need not be opened to prompt a DCFS investigation. Even an accident and a trip to the hospital or a nosy neighbor could initiate a visit from DCFS.
The bottom line is that a number of things could prompt an investigation and any visit by a social worker can be scary.
It is mandatory for DCFS to assign a social worker trained in emergency response to assess a potentially dangerous situation for a child when an emergency report is made. The social worker must determine if the child is at risk and whether he or she needs to be removed from the parent.
The DCFS social worker must also immediately arrange an in-person visit and investigation of the report if:
- The situation poses an immediate threat to the child;
- The report is initiated by a law enforcement agency that states the child is at immediate danger; OR
- The social worker believes that the child is at immediate danger or risk of abuse or neglect.
Removing a Child From Home
Before a DCFS social worker can remove a child from his or her home, the social worker must consider providing service to the parents to maintain the child safely in the home. There must be significant reasons before DCFS can remove a child from a parent.
The following circumstance alone are not sufficient under the Welfare and Institutions Code for removal:
- Spanking, with no additional evidence of physical injury or trauma;
- Lack of shelter for a parent/parents;
- The parent’s unwillingness to provide mental health treatment based on a legitimate religious belief ;
- Cultural and religious child-rearing practices and beliefs unless they pose a direct and serious physical or emotional risk to the child;
- Treatment of a child by spiritual or religious means.
The Need for Legal Representation
Regardless of the reason for DCFS to initiate an investigation by a social worker, it is important for you to immediately talk to an experienced Central Valley family law attorney. It is best never to speak to a social worker without an attorney present.
Call an Experienced Central Valley Family Law Attorney
If you are involved in a family law matter or have questions regarding child custody, it is important that you have a knowledgeable attorney fighting for your rights. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with a Central Valley family law attorney, please call Gurjit Srai (209) 323-5558 or (559) 449-1447, or complete our online form.