Does this sound right? DCFS related. (Sorry, kind of long)

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Posted 10/6/2013 by Bumpea in NSBR Board
 

Bumpea
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Posted: 10/6/2013 10:34:54 AM
My son has a 2yo daughter with a girl I'll call J. They separated (never married) a year ago and have shared custody of DGD fairly amicably since then. J does sometimes try to make it a bit difficult for DS to get DGD on occasion, but for the most part they've worked out a week with dad/week with mom arrangement.

About 2 months ago, DGD had a rash and J got it in her head that she'd been abused and took her to the hospital. After being examined, it was determined to be a diaper rash and that was the end of that.

Or so we thought.

On Wednesday of last week, DS was visited by DCFS who said they'd received an anonymous call in regards to that incident of 2 months ago. They stayed about 15 minutes questioning DS about the incident but had no interaction with DGD other than visual observation.

When they left, they told him the case should be closed out in a few days.

Okay...?

On Thursday, DS got a call from J who told him he's not allowed to see DGD. She claims she was told this by DCFS and that she had a 'paper' stating so.

Since then, DS has made dozens of calls to DCFS but hasn't been able to reach a live body or get a call back from anyone. A cellphone photo of the paper J has is very bad quality and you can't really make out anything on it, other than a handwritten note under a heading that says Actions to Keep the Child Safe:



The mother, XXXX XXXXX, will not allow the child to have any contact with XXXX XXXXX pending ??? ????? investigation.


The ??? ???? part looks like it might be 'four home', but we really can't make it out with certainty.

Assuming this is legit, can DCFS really do this? Instruct the mother to simply not allow contact and that's it? No charges, no notification to the father, just a note on a paper?

DS has contacted a lawyer. The lawyer agrees that it appears 'fishy' and instructed him to get a copy of this paper. He couldn't advise DS any further than that without a retainer. (DS has been unemployed for almost a year. He doesn't have the money for a retainer and it will take some time to come up with it.)

J is also balking at giving DS a copy of the paper. DS is on very good terms with J's mother and she is trying to get a copy, but J maintains she sent a picture of it and that's good enough.

So, I guess my questions are:

1) Does this sound legitimate?
2) Who else, besides an unresponsive DCFS, can DS try to contact?

And yes, a legal custody order should be in place. We've stressed that many, MANY times but like a lot of young first-timers, DS and J believed they could work it out just fine themselves.

*sigh*

TIA.
L

jmd1970
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Posted: 10/6/2013 10:43:47 AM
No, it doesn't sound right. I know that in my state the party who is being investigated will receive a letter saying the case was unfounded and the matter had been closed. I hope he gets that letter soon. I would also be talking to the lawyer about a formal agreement. Sorry he is going through this- I know from personal experience how stressful it can be. Peamail me if you want.


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Kerri W
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Posted: 10/6/2013 10:44:05 AM
I'm going to say, under specific circumstances, dcfs could restrict visitation. I find it odd they wouldn't have sent him a copy or notification of the letter.

If *I* were in your DS shoes I would continue with my plans for visitation like I'd never heard of the letter. If he gets to her house or whatever the exchange point is and she refuses to allow the visitation or produce the letter, I would call non-emergency police number and report her for obstructing visitation and ask for an officer to come to his location. At the very least her refusal for visitation will then be documented which may come in handy later.

mishkismom
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Posted: 10/6/2013 10:47:43 AM
A hand written note? No. I don't think it is legit.



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Miss Ang
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Posted: 10/6/2013 10:50:19 AM


If *I* were in your DS shoes I would continue with my plans for visitation like I'd never heard of the letter. If he gets to her house or whatever the exchange point is and she refuses to allow the visitation or produce the letter, I would call non-emergency police number and report her for obstructing visitation and ask for an officer to come to his location. At the very least her refusal for visitation will then be documented which may come in handy later.
I agree. If there was a limit of visitation from DCFS your son would have been notified as well.


-Angela

Bumpea
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Posted: 10/6/2013 10:54:53 AM
jmd1970 - Yes, it is very stressful. Especially the not knowing what's really going on.

Kerri W (I can't quote on this computer). DS is hesitant to proceed with visitation as normal for fear this is legitimate and could land him in serious trouble if he violates the instructions on that paper J has. And I don't know that he can claim obstruction since they do not have a legal custody order in place.

L

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Posted: 10/6/2013 10:55:53 AM
Any legal proceeding done by dcfs would be documented with a case number and copied to your son. I agree with Kerri, go to regular visitation and call non emergency police if she gives any grief. At that time, he can see the hand written letter.

I would also give her fair warning, via text for proof, that he will be there at his time.

Without a court ordered visitation agreement, I don't know that any of this will do any good other than getting a police record that he can then take to court to file. He can do that without an atty.

And I would keep calling dcfs until he gets a person on the line who can explain how things work. How about the worker who came to his house?
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sss
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Posted: 10/6/2013 10:56:58 AM
Hi. Exsocial worker here. Yes, this sounds very fishy and he should be receiving notice from DCFS. Furthermore, I can't imagine that if this was legit that an investigator wouldn't return to well, investigate more! I don't care what you have to sell or if you have to organize some kind of fundraiser but your son needs this lawyer on retainer pronto. He needs a formal custody agreement AND I would consider a DNA test to prove she is his incase this gets nasty. For a little CYA I would also insist on formalizing child support. PUt it all above board. Gives her less room to be sneaky. Hope that helps!

Regina Phalange
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Posted: 10/6/2013 10:57:17 AM
I find it very hard to believe that DCFS has launched an investigation and has not notified your DS whatsoever.


**Julie**






"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou


Bumpea
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Posted: 10/6/2013 10:57:46 AM
Miss Ang, that is my thought, too. If there was a true restriction order, DS would HAVE to be notified. I would think he'd the first, actually. Or a very quick second after the mother.

L

Live4Crafts
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Posted: 10/6/2013 10:58:39 AM
Actually, yes, it could be very legit. Given that your DS and J did not have a formal visitation order in place, and that there is an allegation that your DGD *may* have been abused while in the custody of DS (not saying it happened but that is what is alleged), then it is possible. In IL, they have what is called a safety plan. It is a form document with handwritten specifics about what can and can not do. If this is what J has, and she allows visits with your DS, she is actually at risk of losing the child to foster care, due to placing the child at risk of harm. (again, this is based on IL rules...I worked as a foster care caseworker).
This is just based on IL, so you might want to find out more about your specific state.

enjoytotheend
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Posted: 10/6/2013 11:02:17 AM
It doesn't sound like it is legit. If it was I don't know why she would have a problem copying it? Anyone can write anything. I would think they would have to contact him to let him know.

Bumpea
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Posted: 10/6/2013 11:05:42 AM
Peace: He has been calling the social worker who came to the house. He's left a dozen messages but she's yet to call him back. Any and all other numbers for DCFS just put him in an automated-answer loop with never a live person to be found.

sss: Agreed he's needs that retainer. We're working on it. Unfortunately, everyone has had a very hard year financial wise and there's not much to squeeze. I spent the morning putting some items on CL and FB for sale, so hopefully we can scratch it together soon.

Live4crafts: That sounds like what this is, then. We're in FL. Perhaps the laws are similar, here.

ETA: The original suspicion of abuse was 2 months ago and a doctor's examination found that no abuse had taken place. This investigation, as far as we've been told, is based on an anonymous call that cited that original unfounded suspicion. The whole thing makes no sense to me.

L

revirdsuba
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Posted: 10/6/2013 11:10:20 AM
The advantage of your DS going for normal visitation with her refusing is that he should CALMLY call the police, J will then have to show the paper to the police to 'prove' her case. They have had an established pattern of visitation, not legal, for a year. Your DS MUST remain calm at all cost!! Wishing your DS good luck in a peaceful visit!


Bumpea
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Posted: 10/6/2013 11:19:47 AM
Revirdsuba, thanks for the well-wishes. This is really taking a toll on DS (and all of us). I've advised him to contact the police and ask for help but he's fearful that involving them will just make it worse on him.

So frustrating. I know social workers have a horrendously heavy load, but surely a 1 minute call to DS to tell him that this is legit and what will happen next should be proper procedure, yes?

L

Bumpea
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Posted: 10/6/2013 11:32:38 AM
Redux - how do you find those services? DS has looked into that many times without success.

L

Bingcherry
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Posted: 10/6/2013 11:34:18 AM
Calling the police won't get him anywhere, especially if they don't have a current custody agreement. Even if they did, the police aren't in a position to enforce a custody agreement. It's a civil matter.




alisatj
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Posted: 10/6/2013 12:26:41 PM
I think he should make a visit to the DCFS office in person to get some answers and stop trying the phone calls.

Helen *Mc
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Posted: 10/6/2013 12:34:42 PM
No, they have to send notification to the other party/parent. Other than that notification not getting to the address, I have no idea why they would only address one parent, particularly when that parent is the complainant.

Think about it this way, if they hadn't notified the father, how could or would he be expected to know about visitation rights changing? There has to be a legal chain of paperwork, and notification or intent of visitation restriction has to be sent. Its the government, there is always red tape.

Its the same with everything, a restraining order notice is even sent to the other party.



NurseSweets
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Posted: 10/6/2013 12:48:15 PM
I agree that it sounds fishy and not legit, my DH and I currently care for a friend of our DD's that was removed from her mothers care from DCFS! They did a home inspection and back ground checks on us and come twice a week to take her to see her Mom I cannot imagine they would not notify your DS! If I were him I would plan on picking her up at his normal time if he hasn't heard anything from DCFS and if she refuses I would call the police! The police should be able to determine if there's a DCFS case!


**HEATHER***

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FLGirl31
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Posted: 10/6/2013 1:32:36 PM
I see that you are in Florida. Your son does not need a lawyer to file a paternity action in Florida. In Florida, visitation is called time share. Go to, http://www.flcourts.org/gen_public/family/forms_rules/index.shtml, and scroll down to the section for Paternity actions. I believe that each county in Florida has a division which will help people fill out the forms necessary to file an action on their own. Since your
son is unemployed, he might be able to have the filing fees waived. Do not let this drag on. The police will more than likely not get involved with time share issues unless there is a court order.

Good luck!
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