DFCS / DFACS / DFAX DEPRIVATION ACTIONS
The Department of Family and Children Services (most commonly abbreviated as DFCS or DFACS) can implement safety plans, remove children, and initiate deprivation actions. We STRONGLY recommend speaking to an attorney before signing anything with DFCS, as the first document DFCS will often try to get someone to sign is a waiver of rights/ admission of deprivation where a parent is admitting that they did something wrong. The threat is often that the children will be taken if they do not sign documents, but by signing the documents, you may be waiving important rights.
Can DFCS remove my children? Yes. Ask them to place with a family member if there is a removal. A family member in the same county is always the fastest, and avoiding foster care is usually a primary concern. We want placement with family if the children are going to be removed.
What happens after a removal? If you did not sign paperwork that waives your hearing, DFCS must have a hearing within 72 hours in front of a Juvenile Court Judge to get approval for a removal. If at all possible, you want your attorney present at this hearing. This is where much of the tone of the case will be established. To get an attorney, call immediately when your children are taken. (Attorneys go to court, and you don’t want to wait until the last minute to find your attorney of choice does not have appointments available the day before because he/she is already in that court that day, but they had an opening the day before that you missed. 72 hours is 3 days, so you want to get things moving quickly.
Did DFCS do things the right way? If you signed documents waiving your rights, you are giving up a lot of protections, often including the 72 hour hearing. Did they give you a copy of what you were going to sign that was completely filled out before asking you to sign? NEVER sign any document that is not completely filled out. Did they give you a copy of what you signed (so you know what you agreed to and you know they did not add anything later)? No copier? Take a picture with your phone! Did the case worker tell you one thing and the paperwork says something else? Don’t sign!
Can I record the DFCS worker? Yes. In Georgia, you can, even if they don’t want you to. If they refuse to talk more if they are being recorded, you do not want to speak with them further without an attorney. They should know that you can record them, and refusing that is showing they don’t want what they are saying to be a part of the record. Be doubly cautious about signing anything.
Can I get DFCS to go away? Our strategy is always 1) Get children out of foster care to family first. 2) Get the children back to the parent(s). 3) Work out the case. Sometimes, the strategy to get a child back faster is not the same as the strategy to get DFCS out of your life faster. Because the goal is always re-unification as soon as possible, that will mean that cases can take a little longer.
Do you actually fight DFCS? Absolutely. You want an attorney who is willing to go to trail, present evidence, and use law to protect your legal rights. You want someone willing to fight DFCS and give the judge push back when needed.
Do you always fight DFCS? No. Sometimes it does not make sense. Sometimes, we are able to work out a deal that gets the case over after jumping through some hoops. Because we are willing to fight them, they are willing to deal fairly with us in many cases. Fighting unnecessarily can delay the return of children or the close of the case. We will work with you closely through the case to make determinations about when to fight and when to work with the Department.
Can you get my judge removed? 99% of the time the answer is no, BUT: please consider this. Judges are rarely renegade, and they often do care quite a bit. Juvenile Court Judge is certainly not the most glamourous position, and it requires a lot of work. If you feel like your Judge is against you, he or she may be. Or, you may not be familiar with procedure. There are times that the Judge does not act because he or she does not have that legal action even if he/she wanted to act. There are times that your passion for your kids made you fight everyone involved and it alienated the Judge. That is not the end of your case. Your Judge cares about the kids first. That means that an attorney can often “reset” the opinion of the Judge by laying out new strategies and tactics. If you have a problem with your judge, be honest with your attorney about it and discuss options with your attorney of resetting that relationship.
To set a consultation with one of our attorneys about a DFCS or Deprivation case, call 770-863-8355. We offer free consultations with an experienced family law attorney.