Are There Any Legitimate Defenses In Neglect Cases?
Yes, there are legitimate defenses in neglect cases. The nature of those defenses will depend on the specific case at hand, but some of the most common defenses that I see are as follows:
- The person alleging neglect is simply mistaken, and it didn’t happen.
- The neglect did happen but was of short duration, and the parent has remediated and corrected their behavior or any risk that would be caused to their children.
- The neglectful parent has obtained necessary treatment to address their problem and is now safe to have their custodial rights restored.
However, if the neglect has yet to be established, then all of the usual evidentiary defenses available in any case are also available in neglect cases. For example, attacking the credibility of witnesses, moving to exclude evidence that is unfair to present to the court, engaging in discovery to demonstrate other facts that provide more context for the allegations, and mitigating how harmful the alleged neglect was are all possible angles for defense.
When Would A Child Be Returned To A Home Where They Were Abused Or Neglected?
If a parent has abused or neglected their child but has fixed the problems that led to the abuse or neglect and if the relationship can be restored, it is often in the best interest of the child to do so. For example, if a parent who was engaged in substance abuse or criminal culture has since escaped that life, ceased using drugs or engaging in criminal activity, and no longer presents a risk to the child, then the best interests of the child might be served by returning them to their parent. However, this decision will depend on the other circumstances in the case.
If a parent has mental health issues but has received the necessary treatment and medication to help them control their condition, then very often it is in the child’s best interest to be returned to that parent. The bonds of love and affection between the child and the parent don’t go away simply because the child has been removed from the parent. If a parent–child relationship can be salvaged or was never really destroyed to begin with, then there are many circumstances in which it’s in the child’s best interest to be reunited with that parent. Often, a parent who has abused or neglected a child will need to go through a good number of services, treatment plans, and other steps to demonstrate that they have “cleaned up their act” and been remediated before the reunification can take place.