Central Arkansas & Saline County Lawyers Handle Dependency Neglect Cases With Sensitivity
Protecting the best interests of a child in abuse or neglect cases
Accusations of child abuse or neglect are taken very seriously in Arkansas. At Huffman Butler, PLLC we care about your case as much as you do. Our Benton family lawyers understand how the system functions and work to find the best solution to your dependency neglect case.
Abuse and neglect under Arkansas law
The definition of abuse covers a wide range of actions, including non-accidental physical injury, giving or permitting a child to consume drugs or alcohol, extreme or repeated cruelty, and injury to a child’s intellectual, emotional or psychological development. Reasonable and moderate discipline, such as restraining or spanking a child, is generally not considered abuse as long as it does not cause injury more serious than transient pain or minor temporary marks.
Neglect can also take many forms. It includes the failure or refusal to provide the necessary food, clothing, shelter and education required by law and the failure or irremediable inability to provide for the essential and necessary physical, mental or emotional needs of the child. Failure or refusal to prevent the abuse of the child can also constitute neglect.
Abandonment is also considered a form of child maltreatment under Arkansas law. It involves the failure of a parent to provide reasonable support and to maintain regular contact with a child, which is accompanied by an intention on the part of the parent to permit the condition to continue for an indefinite period in the future or the failure of a parent to support or maintain regular contact with a child without just cause.
When you are concerned about the welfare of a child
Some professionals like doctors, teachers and police officers are “mandated” reporters, which means that they are legally obligated to report suspected abuse or neglect. However, anyone who is concerned about the welfare of a child can file a report with the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline. The report triggers an investigation either by the Arkansas State Police or by the Department of Human Services.
When your child has been taken away from you
Once an allegation has been made, the Department of Human Services begins an investigation that can lead to the removal of the child from the home. If your child is removed from your custody, the court will notify you in writing. Through a series of several court hearings, you have the opportunity to tell your side of the story and convince the court that the child can safely live with you. At the adjudication hearing or trial, the court decides if the child has been abused or neglected. The court may also determine at that time if it is in your child’s best interests to remain in the custody of the Department of Human Services, be placed in the custody of someone else or return home. The court also approves a plan for services to be provided to you and your child by the caseworker assigned to your case.
Over the course of several months, the court conducts review hearings to determine the status of the child, the progress of the case plan and the resolution of the issues that prompted the investigation. The court has 12 months to conduct a separate court hearing to determine a permanent placement for your child. In doing so, the court considers the recommendations of the caseworker and other evidence to determine the best interests of your child. The possible resolutions of the case include:
- Returning the child to your custody
- Continuing the case plan with the goal of returning the child to your custody
- Terminating your parental rights (requires a separate court hearing)
- Placing your child in the permanent custody of someone else
- Allowing the child to remain in foster care until the child can learn how to be independent
Getting your children can back can take a very long time, but at Huffman Butler, PLLC one of our juvenile law attorneys can help, while drawing on our legal team’s more than 20 years of combined experience practicing family law in Benton. If your child has been taken into protective custody because of allegations of physical, emotional or sexual abuse, neglect or drug or alcohol abuse, it’s in your best interest to get an attorney right away.
Contact our professional central Arkansas juvenile law attorneys
At Huffman Butler, PLLC we are committed to helping and protecting children. For assistance with a dependency neglect case, call 501-315-5297 or book an appointment on our online scheduler. We offer flexible office hours to meet your busy schedule.