The DYFS Trap
We have done so many DYFS cases that we have started to notice patterns. Unfortunately, some kinds of patterns get people in a lot of trouble. What follows below is a fictional scenario based upon some of these troublesome patterns to demonstrate what I call “the DYFS trap.” The purpose of this is to demonstrate how people can end up digging themselves into a hole that can be very difficult and expensive to get out of. Although a lawyer can make a lot more money with cases such as these in court, our law firm’s goal is to protect our clients. Thus, we hope that this example will lead some people to take action before the case goes to court. Our law firm would much rather get involved before the case goes to court because we can keep costs down and prevent children from being removed. Call us at 1-855-9-JEFLAW anytime to discuss your case.
Bill and Sue are the parents of two young children. While they are not exactly poor, money is very tight. Neither parent has a criminal record and they have never really needed a lawyer before except when they bought their house years ago. One day, a DYFS worker shows up at their house and informs them that DYFS received a call that Bill hits the children, is always drunk and that Sue smokes pot and abuses prescription drugs. The parents are really upset with the allegations since they are false. The case worker explains that they will want to interview the children and the parents at the DYFS office on Monday.
At this point, the parents could have called a lawyer right away but since they think the allegations are false, they figure they don’t need a lawyer (or – they think that a lawyer is too expensive; DYFS will get mad if they get a lawyer; DYFS will not allow them to get a lawyer; they will look guilty if they get a lawyer). So they meet with the DYFS case worker on Monday without hiring a lawyer. It becomes clear that Bill has never hit the children and the other allegations are false. Thus, the case worker says that the case will probably be closed soon. Bill and Sue now think that there is nothing to worry about. A few weeks ago by and they hear nothing. Then, the case worker calls and says that her supervisor wants both parents to take a substance abuse evaluation and to sign a HIPPA form so that DYFS can speak to their doctors.
At the substance abuse evaluation, Bill does admit that he likes to drink sometimes but he denies having a problem. Sue indicates that she has smoked pot before but does not use it regularly and has not used it for some time. Even though she is on Oxycodone for a back injury, she denies abusing them and there is no evidence that she is abusing them. Nevertheless, DYFS suggests that Bill undergo level 1 substance abuse treatment for alcohol and Sue undergo level 2 drug treatment because her urine test results came up diluted and she did admit to smoking pot a number of years ago.
At this point, Bill and Sue are really upset. They don’t want to take time off of work to go to these treatment programs. Furthermore, the case worker called Sue’s doctor and found out that she has anxiety and depression. So now, DYFS wants her to undergo a psychological evaluation. Bill and Sue refuse. They believe that since the allegations were false, DYFS should just go away at this point. Due to their non-compliance, DYFS then files an Order to Investigate to force Sue to undergo a psychological evaluation. Again, they don’t get a lawyer because they don’t know what to expect and they figure that they can just explain to the judge that the allegations are false. Of course, the judge does not care about the allegations and is only concerned with what DYFS wants. Despite the protests of Bill and Sue, the judge orders her to undergo the evaluation.
The psychological evaluation reveals that Sue also suffers from PTSD as a result of an incident in her childhood. The doctor finds that her marijuana use is a form of self medication, especially since she has not refilled her Xanax prescription in a year. The evaluation also reveals that she lacks parenting skills and that she enables Bill’s alcohol use. As a result, the doctor suggests numerous services including parenting skills, individual therapy and intensive outpatient for the drug use. Bill and Sue are again furious and refuse to participate in the services. The doctor twisted everything they said and the doctor felt that Sue was being defensive because she denied the allegations. DYFS then shows up at the house with the police and removes the children. They are placed in foster care and the parents have no contact with the children pending the court date three days later.
As you will notice, the children were not removed as a result of the initial allegations. Those are now long forgotten. Instead, the focus shifted to other issues. Before the parents realized what was going on, the children were removed and now it will be a very long fight to get them back and close this case. I’d like to say that this is a rare situation but I’ve seen it happen way too many times. Of course, this doesn’t always happen. A twist on the beginning of this case would be that Bill and Sue dealt with DYFS two years ago with false allegations and they were able to handle it without a lawyer and it was closed in a few weeks. So why should they get a lawyer this time? This is another way people can get themselves into trouble. Had Bill and Sue hired a lawyer right away, it could cost them up to ten times less than what they might pay to fight to get the children back now and close the court case. I hope that this story helped you understand the DYFS trap. Please note that I am not trying to convince you that you must hire a lawyer. Instead, I’m just trying to get you to understand the trap that you could fall into by not hiring one at the right time. Most people tell me that if they knew they should have hired a lawyer from the start, they would have.
Call us at 1-855-9-JEFLAW anytime to discuss your case.