CARE AND PROTECTION CASES INVOLVING THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES (DCF) f/k/a THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES (DSS)
Attorney Mark A. Nolan has extensive experience representing both juveniles and adults in all matters before the juvenile courts throughout Massachusetts; including juvenile criminal matters and Care and Protection cases which involve the Department of Children and Families (DCF), formerly known as the Department of Social Services (DSS).
DCF can become involved in your life because of a complaint filed against you, even an anonymous complaint, alleging the abuse or neglect of your child or children. Most school employees, nurses, doctors, social workers, police officers and others are "mandated reporters" which means that they are required to file an Abuse and Neglect Report (51A) with DCF, pursuant to Massachusetts General Law 119, §51A, if they merely suspect a child has been abused or neglected. They do not need proof to file a 51A. Mandated reporters may file a 51A because of something that was told to them (oftentimes by young children) without analyzing the veracity of the statement. Oftentimes statements, especially those of children, are not reported accurately, or are taken out of context; causing irreparable harm to a family.
Many times, persons such as an angry neighbor or ex-partner make false allegations to DCF in an attempt to harm you. These false and harmful claims of abuse or neglect can turn your life upside down by sending DCF to your door to interrogate you or a family member. This is a reality that happens to thousands of families each year. Bare allegations, without independent verification, can result in the immediate removal of a child from their parent's custody. If this happens, the parent is now on defense attempting to convince DCF that they are a good parent in the hopes of having their child returned to them. If DCF enters your life, get qualified legal representation immediately.
If your child is removed from your custody on an emergency basis, DCF has to file a Care and Protection case with the Juvenile Court. Care and Protection matters, if not resolved, can result in a termination trial where DCF seeks to terminate the parent's parental rights as to their children. It is extremely important that you obtain competent representation from an attorney well versed in juvenile law as the rules of evidence are significantly different than in adult courts. A competent attorney in adult court is not necessarily a competent attorney in the juvenile courts. Attorney Mark A. Nolan has many years of experience representing clients in Care and Protection cases as well as other matters involving the Department of Children and Families including 51A reports, 51B Investigations, Assessments, Termination of Parental Rights trials, Fair Hearings, Guardianship matters, Adoptions and CRA issues.
Being unrepresented or inadequately represented when dealing with the Department of Children and Families may have very serious and permanent consequences. You are strongly urged to seek qualified legal representation to protect your rights in these very difficult situations. Your parental rights as to your children depend on it.
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