The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is the agency that is responsible for the investigation of any allegations of child abuse or neglect. While DCFS does not typically get involved in a standard child custody case during a divorce or separation, DCFS will open an investigation if child abuse or neglect has been alleged by any party. If a DCFS investigation is conducted, the results of this investigation could have a large effect on each parent’s parenting time and parental responsibilities. Here’s a look into what you should know–
What Is a DCFS Investigation?
If there is any report made to the DCFS that a child is being abused or neglected, the agency often has an obligation to investigate that allegation. If a formal investigation is opened, DCFS agents, often working with police, will look for any evidence that:
- The child was abused or neglected;
- The child is at risk of abuse or neglect within the home; or
- The family and the child are in need of DCFS-provided services.
Typically, in order to gather this evidence, a DCFS investigator will visit the family home and meet with the child and parents, as well as anyone else living within the home. The investigator will also meet with the person who made the claim of abuse.
What Happens Next?
Most DCFS investigations are concluded within 60 days. If there is no evidence of abuse or neglect, the case will not go any further, and the investigation will likely have little to no effect on your parenting time case.
If there is evidence of abuse or neglect, on the other hand, your case will be labeled “indicated.” Most of the time when a parent is indicated, the child is not removed from the home; instead, DCFS can provide services to the family and child that are intended to allow the child to remain safely within the home.
Anyone who is indicated for child abuse or neglect has the right to appeal the decision.
Will a Finding of Abuse or Neglect Affect My Right to Parenting Time with My Child?
While a child may not be removed from the home of parents who are raising a child together if a case is indicated, an indication of child abuse or neglect against a single parent could certainly affect the outcome of a child custody and parenting time case. Indeed, one of the factors considered by the court when making a decision about parenting time is any occurrence of abuse against the child (or anyone else within the household).
If you have been indicated by DCFS for child abuse or neglect, this could mean that a judge will not side in your favor when issuing a decision about parenting time. If you believe that the DCFS decision was made in error, you should work with a qualified professional who can help you to appeal the finding.
Our Family Law Attorneys Can Help
At the law offices of Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C., our parenting time lawyers know how important it is that you are awarded time with your child at the conclusion of your divorce. If you need help petitioning the court for parenting time and have a unique issue–such as a finding of abuse or neglect that is impeding your case–please call us today or send us a message. We can guide you through the law and next steps to take.