What Happens When a Parent is Falsely Accused of Child Abuse?

Cook County family law attorneyChild abuse and other forms of domestic violence are real and serious threats that affect millions of Americans every year. Sadly, in Illinois alone, it is estimated that thousands of children are neglected or abused each year.

Unfortunately, some parents use the seriousness of abuse charges to attempt to revoke parental responsibilities from a child’s other parent. This may stem from misunderstandings based on different disciplinary approaches, knowing exaggerations, or outright lies. Whatever the reason behind the accusation, you need to know your rights and what you can do to protect yourself and your relationship with your child.

Is DCFS Involved?

If you have been accused of child abuse, you may be contacted by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). DCFS must take every allegation of abuse seriously; therefore, even if the accusations against you are untrue, you may have to deal with a formal investigation.

Someone from DCFS may visit you and interview you, your child, and other family members. The DCFS investigator may also need to speak with other people involved in your child’s life, such as teachers or medical providers.

DCFS investigations must be completed within 60 days. If DCFS believes a child is in danger, they have authority from the state to remove the child from dangerous circumstances.

What Are My Rights?

Most parents would never hurt their children, so someone who is falsely accused of harming their child may understandably feel angry and offended. Regardless of how you feel, it is important that you remain cooperative and respectful. You will likely be questioned by a DCFS investigator, and you should answer their questions honestly and calmly. Try not to focus on your anger, and focus on what is best for your child.

Illinois is not a state where parents can specifically be punished for making false accusations of abuse, although knowingly filing a false report with DCFS is a felony. The Illinois State Central Register keeps a record of every DCFS investigation for up to three years, even if it proves to be unfounded. You may request that the State Center Register keep a record of the report if you need to prove your ex has been harassing you. A court will likely take the fact that your ex made false accusations against you into account when making custodial decisions.

You have the right to hire an attorney who will represent you throughout the case. Even if you are cleared of the allegations against you, you may have to fight for custody of your child or contend with an order of protection. Having an experienced attorney by your side will help you remain calm and confident, and your attorney will guide you through the investigation and any additional legal proceedings so you do not have to navigate the situation alone.

Contact a Cook County Family Law Attorney

Dealing with false accusations of child abuse is stressful and difficult. Donald J. Cosley is an experienced Rolling Meadows family law attorney who understands that not every parent who is accused of child abuse is guilty. Cosley Law Office will give you dependable legal advice and support. Give us a call today at 847-253-3100 and get a free, confidential consultation.

Source:

https://www2.illinois.gov/dcfs/aboutus/Documents/whatcani.pdf

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