Protecting Parents from Unfounded Charges of Neglect from Child Protective Services
My firm has handled thousands of cases involving Child Protective Services (CPS) neglect allegations and we have recently won a published appeal that has clarified the law in connection with the CPS definition of neglect.
Teachers, doctors and others in certain professions have mandatory rules that force them to report anything that could be deemed to endanger the welfare of a child. Therefore, when your child goes to school with an unexplained bruise or story of abuse, it will become the subject of a CPS investigation. CPS investigations are done by often well-meaning individuals but these individuals or case workers do not know you nor do they know the full facts of the situation. They will pry into your life and will conduct interviews with outside resources such as teachers, doctors and friends and neighbors. They will thereafter make a finding either that there is some credible evidence that you have acted inappropriately as a parent or that there is no credible evidence against you and that the case is unfounded. How incredibly upsetting it can be to have a case worker or maybe a person who is much younger than the parent and/or someone with no children making findings or recommendations? Even more upsetting would be the intrusion into a parent’s life and then a final judgment as to whether or not the person’s parenting skills are inappropriate, neglectful, or abusive. These things are not taken lightly by parents. Often, the parents wait until the very last minute to hire a lawyer. This is not advisable.
Our firm has always stood on the side of parents against the county and we do what it takes to show that people who love their children have various parenting styles that may, in some instances, be different from that of a case worker’s opinion of what makes good parenting. Nevertheless, there is no standard model of what makes good parenting. There is, on the other hand, the law that protects children from abuse and harm. There is a, “statutory requirement that there be proof of actual or imminent danger of physical, emotional, or mental impairment to the child,” then a family court decides to authorize state intervention. They focus on, “serious harm or potential harm to the child, not just what might be deemed undesirable parental behavior” (emphasis added). The last portion of that sentence was the important part of the case that was reversed and dismissed on appeal.
In the case titled “In the Matter of Kiana M.-M (Anonymous) and In the Matter of Keira M.-M (Anonymous)” an Associate of Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, Jamie Rose Hersh, Esq., was able to reverse the family court holding that had deemed that a parent was neglectful. We were able to protect the parent from a finding of neglect by the court. This is an Appellate Division case that is reported both in the law books, The Appellate Division Reporters and in the New York Law Journal itself.
This case represents a huge victory for The Law Firm of Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C and a huge victory for parents in the state of New York. Whether or not everybody agrees with a certain style of parenting, parenting styles do differ. So long as there is no serious harm (or potential serious harm) in a style of parenting that may be judged to be undesirable by CPS or the Courts, it still may not be neglect according to this finding.
Over the years we have seen a loosening of restrictions in connection with cases that involve corporal punishment and strict parenting, and unique and different forms of education and religious instruction. These cases are paving the way to a less restrictive county and government and permit more freedom within a family to parent. Strong parenting, different parenting, vegetarian parenting and parents who home school these are all different, American styles of parenting. These approaches to parenting may be in the minority but none the less, they may not be considered harmful to the child under the Family Court Act, and the parent should be free from state and county involvement. Parents should be able to enjoy freedom from government intervention in their family unit and whatever religion, education, and parenting style they choose. If there is no serious harm or potential serious harm to the child, the various levels of discipline and/or rules of the household should not be subject to being second guessed by local government, CPS case workers, or the courts themselves just because the individuals involved do not agree with the particular parenting style or methods.
Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C., maintains a law office at 1145 Walt Whitman Road, Melville New York 11747. Mr. Salamone has been handling cases for almost twenty years and has handled thousands of matrimonial and family law cases and protects parents from the County and CPS allegations on a case by case basis. Mr. Salamone himself conducts free consultations Monday to Friday in his office in Melville. Please visit the website: www.divorcelawyerlongisland.com.