What Are My Rights if GA DFCS Come to My House
What authority does DFCS have in Georgia?
Getting a knock on the door from a representative of the Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS) can be a confusing, upsetting, and traumatic experience for parents, children, and everyone who loves and cares about them. The Department of Family and Children’s Services’ role is to protect children from abuse and neglect, but DFCS doesn’t always get it right. If DFCS becomes involved with your family, you should immediately contact a family law attorney. DFCS has the authority to remove your children from your home with a signed order from a judge. From there, several hearings will take place, and it is important that you are represented by an experienced attorney at every stage of the process.
If the Judge finds probable cause to believe that your children are “dependent,” meaning they are the victims of abuse and neglect and require protection from the State, an adjudication hearing will be scheduled and the parties to the case will have the opportunity to prove or refute the allegations made by DFCS. This process can take several months, which leaves your children in limbo and in the temporary custody of DFCS.
Juvenile Dependency Attorneys
Several attorneys are involved in juvenile dependency cases in Cherokee County. In one dependency case, there are at least four attorneys:
- An attorney representing DFCS, known as a SAAG (Special Assistant Attorney General).
- A GAL (guardian ad litem), which is an attorney appointed by the Court to represent the best interest of the child and the child’s interest, unless those two position are in conflict.
- An attorney for the Mother.
- An attorney for the Father.
- Sometimes, a stated interest attorney is appointed to represent children, if the children has desires that a GAL feels are not in the child’s best interest. This typically takes place with older children.
It is important to hire competent legal representation very early on in the process, so that you can refute any allegations DFCS is making against you and your family. If you are a parent involved in a dependency case, Grisham, Poole, and Carlile stands ready to represent you and advocate for you, from the preliminary protective hearing, to the adjudication, to the close of your dependency case. In addition to advocating for you in Court, our team, which includes attorney Ashley Carlile, a former DFCS attorney, has the resources to recommend treatment or services so that you can do everything in your power to have your children returned to your home, if not prevent their removal entirely.
If you are a Father whose children are in DFCS custody and you are not the legitimate Father, GPC is prepared to represent you to ensure that you can be involved in your children’s lives and in the legal process.
DFCS cases often involve law enforcement, and criminal charges may be taken out against you or your loved ones as a result. If you require an experienced criminal defense attorney, our firm can help you, too. It is often beneficial to have the same attorney representing you in the dependency case and any underlying criminal case.
CREDITS and FOOTNOTES
- Photo by Jacob Lund, available at Shutterstock