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Juvenile Court Representation

There are cases in which the Department of Children and Families (DCF) will take emergency custody of your child due to an emergency filing of a 51A report alleging neglect, abuse or physical abuse. In these circumstances, the laws permit DCF to remove your children prior to judicial approval. In most cases, DCF will remove children from the home and apply for custody after the fact.

While DCF has an affirmative obligation to try to place the children with family or relatives, sometimes it is not possible and children are placed in a temporary foster home. Parents are afforded a hearing on the merits of a removal within 72 hours. That hearing is an opportunity for the parents to be heard on the issue of removal and emergency custody designation.

The most common goal for a care and protection action is reunification. When reunification is the goal, DCF will work with the parents and create goals for each parent to complete. If there are substance abuse concerns, sobriety plans and treatment are central to regaining custody of your child.. If there are domestic violence concerns, treatment and safety plans are central to the goals of reunification. Depending on the circumstances of your case, DCF and your attorney will work together to create a plan for reunification. Advocacy on your behalf is crucial in the timing of reunification.

There are cases in which a reunification goal changes to either adoption or guardianship. In the event of adoption, if the case progresses and the parent has failed to cooperate with DCF or take the appropriate steps to rehabilitate their issues, DCF can change the goal to adoption. In the adoption goal track, the foster family has the opportunity to adopt the child or the child can be placed for open adoption and remain in foster care until an adoptive placement opportunity arises. In these scenarios, parental rights are typically. terminated. In the care and protection cases in which the child is placed with family, a swifter resolution to the case is to have a relative apply for guardianship of the child. This preserves the rights of the biological parents and the guardians act as a placeholder until the parent is able to resume custody. This can be a great alternative to an adoption track.

If your family is facing a care and protecting case, contact us to discuss your options today.


Another common case in juvenile court is the Child Requiring Assistance Petition, more commonly known as a CRA petition and formerly known as CHINS petition. The CRA allows for parents to petition the court for assistance with their child. Some children run away from home. Others have serious difficulties following directions and rules at home or school. Some children get into serious trouble in or out of school. Parents try everything to help their child and all attempts fail. A parent or the Department can apply for a CRA. In this instance, parents typically retain legal custody of their child, and DCF has physical custody of the child. The child will be initially assessed by the Department in a temporary placement or group home. Thereafter, they are placed at an appropriate DCF placement to obtain the services they need.

If you need help with your family, we are happy to sit down and discuss your options.