The Division of Family and Children Services (“DFCS”) has the authority to take your child(ren) into State custody, which is a traumatic ordeal for parents and children alike. In order for DFCS to maintain custody, however, they must file a child deprivation action. Therefore, it is important to hire an attorney who knows how to navigate these legal procedures.
The purpose of child deprivation laws is to ensure children are raised in a familial environment with minimal government interference. However, the overarching goal of juvenile law is to consider what is in the best interest of the child(ren).
A “deprived child” is defined as a child “without proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for the child's physical, mental, or emotional health or morals; has been placed for care or adoption in violation of law; has been abandoned by his or her parents or other legal custodian; or is without a parent, guardian, or custodian.” O.C.G.A. § 15-11-2(8).
A deprivation investigation can also stem from child abuse or failure to protect a child from harm (such as sexual abuse) in addition to the abandonment provisions in the statute cited above.
Unfortunately, the failure to report suspected child abuse statute’s (O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5) recent expansion now includes volunteers and others as mandatory reporters. While the law’s purpose is noble, there may be more unjustified DFCS investigations into unsuspecting parents’ homes.
If you have been contacted by DFCS, please contact an attorney as soon as possible. You may need to have an attorney present when you speak with a DFCS caseworker to ensure your statements and actions are properly documented in the event of a hearing.
This information is for general information purposes only. Please call our Forsyth County, Georiga law firm for information about how we can help your children return to your home.
Source: Dan E. McConaughey, Georgia Divorce, Alimony & Child Custody, 2011-2012 Ed., West.