Children & Youth Services attorneys located in Easton, Serving the Greater Lehigh Valley
Our attorneys are experienced in dealing with all types of cases of alleged child abuse and neglect. We were the first to successfully sue Northampton County Children & Youth for custody on behalf of Grandparents. We have also handled numerous indicated status appeals and reunited many parents with their children.
If you are reading this, you likely already know how difficult it can be to deal with a Children and Youth Services Agency. It may feel like the deck is stacked against you, and due to the way most cases are handled, if may very well be.
Contact us early to help. The initial investigation and first few hearings in any dependency case will have a long lasting impact on the development of the case and your custody rights.
All Child Abuse & Neglect cases begin with an investigation by a Children & Youth Agency. Most times investigations begin with an anonymous phone call to their hotline. If you are the subject of a Children & Youth Investigation see our FAQs below and contact our attorneys immediately.
Shelter care hearings do not arise in all cases but arise when the Children and Youth Agency moves to take children out of a parent’s home on an emergency basis. These hearing must be held quickly and it will often be hard for parents to retain counsel in time if they have not done so already.
If a Child Abuse or Neglect case makes it to Juvenile Court, this is often the first court date. The Juvnile Dependency Adjudication Hearing is where the Court determines if the government can exert custodial rights over the child(ren). We believe this to be the most important hearing of all Juvenile Dependency hearings. In most cases this will be the only hearing where a real trial takes place, that is to say where hearsay is not admissible. Unfortunately many parents mistakenly waive this hearing because the Agency is not taking the child(ren) at that time. What these parents to not understand is that waiving this hearing allows the government to take the child(ren) at any later time based upon hearsay alone.
Disposition Hearings occur regularly after Adjudication Hearings. The purpose of a Disposition Hearing is to determine the well being of the child(ren), if their placement in or out of the home is appropriate, and to review the goals of the case and the compliance of the parents with those goals. Unfortunately hearsay is admissible at these hearings.
If a child has been placed outside of a parent’s care for a total of 15 out of the past 22 months, even if the there have been gaps of time where the parent had custody, the Juvenile Court Rules require Children & Youth Agencies to seek to terminate a parent’s rights.
Our Child Abuse Attorneys take a unique and nuanced approach to Juvenile Dependency case. Due to certain stages requiring very different levels of evidence, our tactics and strategies tend to vary between extremes. We aim to help our clients make the very best impression during initial investigations in the hopes of avoiding court involvement. If there is court involvement we will usually take an aggressive posture in defending the case while at the same time advising our client to be cooperative as possible. As we believe the Dependency Adjudication Hearing to be the most important hearing, that is where we plan our battle. If we are involved in a case after the Adjudication Hearing has already happened, we will help our clients to comply with court recommendations and to assure that those recommendations are reasonable.
You should contact a Lehigh Valley Child Abuse and Neglect Attorney immediately. Children & Youth could be investigating for any number of reasons but they are usually up front about their reasons. If they are not able to place eyes on the children they will have to pursue legal action.
It is standard for Children & Youth to want to view your home. We recommend allowing them in but only after brief preparation. Make sure of the following:
1. There is fresh food in the refrigerator and pantry
2. There are no hazardous conditions in the home (Weapons, Drugs, Exposed Wiring, Etc.)
3. The house is tidy and clean
4. There are appropriate sleeping conditions for the children (Separate beds for each child and separate rooms for children of different genders)
5, Make sure to be polite
Generally, if are sure you will not test positive, you should consent to a drug test. If you believe you may test positive for drugs, you should contact one of our attorneys. Depending on the specific drug and the likelihood of a positive test, we may or may not recommend complying.
No! You should never waive this hearing without first speaking with an attorney who you trust.