The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is tasked with protecting children who may be victims of abuse or neglect. Thus, it must take any credible accusations seriously. As a parent, receiving a notification from the DCFS is frightening because you do not know whether you will lose the right to see your child. The stakes may seem even higher if you are accused of child abuse during your divorce. If the DCFS indicates you for child abuse or neglect, it will negatively affect your allocation of parental responsibilities.

How DCFS Cases Start

Do not assume that your spouse is the one accusing you of child abuse just because the accusation comes during your divorce. The DCFS allows anyone to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect, and people such as teachers and doctors are required to report their suspicions. However, the DCFS requires the reporter to provide details that will make the accusation credible, such as a description of the child’s injuries, the child’s explanation for the injuries, and observations of the alleged abuser’s interactions with the child.

Initial Investigation

When the DCFS receives a credible report accusing you of child abuse, it will start by visiting your home to inform you of the accusation and determine whether the child is in immediate danger. It will not take your child away from you unless it believes your child is not safe. The DCFS will determine whether the child abuse accusation is founded by interviewing witnesses. It has 60 days to complete the investigation and report its findings.

Being Indicated

The DCFS will close the case if it determines the child abuse accusation against you was unfounded. If it determines that the accusation was founded, you will be indicated for child abuse or neglect. An indication will almost certainly hurt your claim to parenting time and decision-making powers during your divorce. In the most severe cases, you may be denied access to your child or limited to supervised visits until you can prove that you are no longer a danger.

Your Right to Appeal

An indication of child abuse or neglect does not have to be the end of the case. You can appeal the decision and take it to an administrative hearing, where you can:

  • Present your own evidence
  • Subpoena your own witnesses
  • Question the DCFS’s witnesses

Though you are the one bringing the appeal, the DCFS bears the burden of proving its allegations against you. If the administrative law judge finds in your favor, then the child abuse indication will be removed from your record. If your appeal is denied, you can appeal again to a higher court.

Contact a St. Charles, Illinois, Divorce Attorney

If you are accused of child abuse or neglect, the way you respond can help determine the outcome of your case. A Kane County divorce lawyer at Goostree Law Group will protect your parental rights during your case. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1460&ChapterID=32

https://www2.illinois.gov/dcfs/aboutus/had/Pages/default.aspx