The Interplay Between Criminal Charges, DHS/DCFS Reports, Custody Cases, and Juvenile Abuse/Neglect Cases

A person who is charged with a crime relating to child abuse will often find themselves also facing a DHS or DCFS child abuse report, a custody case, and/or a juvenile abuse/neglect case. That is because the same accusation that brings about one case can serve as the legal basis for the other case or cases.

An example of one allegation leading to many cases

As an example, a person could be accused of domestic violence involving a former partner with whom they have a child, with the allegation saying that the child was present at the time of the alleged violence.  That could lead to a protective order case being filed by the former partner, and a DHS/DCFS report for child endangerment.  The state could also file domestic abuse criminal charges.  The former partner could also seek a change in child custody, using the same alleged incident as a basis for that change.  If the state believed that the child was in danger, it could also bring a juvenile abuse/neglect case (in Illinois) or a Child in Need of Assistance case in Iowa.

Handling such a situation with multiple cases

It is important to properly handle a situation that leads to multiple cases, as any action in one case can have a profound impact upon the other cases.  For example, a finding of child abuse that is not overturned upon appeal in a DHS or DCFS can give a person’s ex an advantage in a custody case.  Similarly, a criminal conviction for child endangerment can result in a person losing the ability to appeal a DHS or DCFS founded child abuse assessment on the same underlying facts.

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On a positive note, the existence of multiple pending cases can sometimes work to a person’s advantage.  I have handled DHS/DCFS appeals where we were able to make use of information learned in a deposition in a criminal case to help the DHS/DCFS appeal case.  Had there not been a pending criminal case, we would not have been able to obtain the information learned in the deposition, and so the existence of the criminal case was a useful thing for the DHS/DCFS appeal.