A dependency and neglect (D&N) proceeding is a civil process — not a criminal one. However, criminal charges sometimes arise out of D&N cases. If your child has been removed from your custody by the state due to allegations of dependency or neglect, it’s essential to act quickly.

What does it mean to be a dependent or neglected child?

In theory, a dependent or neglected child is one who is:

  • Abandoned
  • Mistreated
  • Abused
  • Lacking parental supervision or care
  • Homeless
  • Born addicted to drugs
  • Out of control
  • Not attending school
  • Not receiving medical care

Children can be deemed dependent or neglected based purely on the biases of a particular authority like a teacher, doctor or caseworker.

For example, imagine that you have a child who is autistic. His doctor wants you to put him on high-powered antipsychotics to help control his public meltdowns. You object to the treatment because you think that therapy, milder anti-anxiety medication and coaching should be tried first. Your child’s doctor decides that you aren’t providing your child with appropriate medical care and reports you as a neglectful parent.

What happens after you are accused of neglect?

You have at most 72 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) to get an attorney and respond to the allegations at the preliminary protection proceeding.

Do not rely on the idea that the judge in your case will “see reason.” Most courts will give greater weight to the “experts” involved — not the parents. Our office has experience handling D&N cases. We can defend your rights as a parent and protect your child’s interests.