This is the next post in my series on the handling of DCF cases in Melbourne, Florida. My last article discussed why parents should retain an attorney for abuse/neglect allegations. The reason to immediately retain counsel is two-fold. First, and the most obvious, is that your ability to care for your child is being challenged. Second, the accusations of abuse and neglect can also lead to criminal charges. By retaining qualified representation, you help to ensure that your rights remain protected as the process moves forward. In this article I will be addressing another important issue in these types of cases – the need for non-custodial parents to retain their own attorney. Our office is dedicated to the handling of domestic relations cases and we aggressively represent parents in DCF matters. Contact us today to speak with a lawyer.
An attorney can help non-custodial parents during the DCF shelter hearing
The process in a dependency action can move rather quickly. If DCF decides a child is to be removed from a home, then a “shelter” hearing will take place shortly thereafter. The purpose of this hearing is for the Court to decide where the child should be placed while the matter proceeds. A Court’s first preference will typically be to place the child with the non-custodial parent. It is important to understand, however, that a Court will not do so unless it can ensure that the non-custodial parent will provide a safe and suitable environment for the child. Examples of what the Court will be looking for in such a determination include:
- Ensuring that the non-custodial parent has safe, sanitary, and habitable housing
- Ensuring that there are no background issues which may raise concerns
- Ensuring that that non-custodial parent will follow the Court’s mandates in regards to contact, or a lack thereof, with the offending parent
Retaining an attorney who is experienced in such matters can assist the non-custodial parent in making a compelling case to the Court. Counsel will work to submit information which will satisfy all of the Court’s requests and, importantly, will work with you to ensure that you are prepared to present yourself in the best manner possible.
Unfortunately, some parents make the mistake of thinking that the Court will grant them care of the child as a matter of course. This is not the case and parents who make this mistake often show up to court unprepared. This can mean the child potentially being sent to live with another relative or, worse, a temporary foster home. By speaking with counsel sooner, rather than later, you can help to improve your chances that the child is placed in your care.
An attorney can also assist Melbourne area parents in subsequent child custody proceedings
Once a DCF case has been concluded, it is likely that the non-custodial parent will wish to file for custody of the child. By retaining a dependency lawyer who also practices in the area of family law, one will be able to have the same counsel through both proceedings. This can be of benefit as the handling of the dependency action can occur with a mind towards future custody proceedings. This is why we suggest retaining an attorney who practices in both Dependency Court and Family Court.
If you are a non-custodial parent and your child is involved in a DCF case then contact us today to speak with a Melbourne dependency lawyer. We understand that this is a serious time in your life and we will give your case the attention it deserves. Our office prides itself on providing quality service and we look forward to being of assistance. We also serve the cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.