Our firm represents many parents and guardians who are the subject of child abuse and/or maltreatment (neglect) investigations throughout New York City, Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess, Putnam and other downstate counties. The first question almost everyone who is the subject of such an investigation asks is: “Can they take my kids?”
Your child can be taken without a court order by the police, child protective services and even you doctor when they have reasonable cause to believe that letting the child remain with you would pose an imminent threat to the child’s life or health and they believe there is not enough time to obtain a court order. (See NY Fam. Ct. Act §1024; Soc. Serv. Law § 417). Therefore, before your child can be removed, there must exist an imminent danger to the child’s life or health and not enough time to obtain a court order. The person who removes a child from the home must make every reasonable effort to inform the parent or guardian where the child has been brought. (See NY Fam. Ct. Act §1024(b)(ii)).
The New York Court of Appeals has interpreted section 1024 of the Family Court Act strictly thus limiting the practice of emergency removals. See Nicholson v. Scoppetta, 3 N.Y.3d 357 (2004). It is not enough that the child “appear” to be in imminent danger; the child must in fact be in imminent danger. This eliminates any polices where Child Protective Services err on the side of “safety” and remove as matter of course.
Emotional harm or the risk of emotional harm will almost never be a sufficient reason for the emergency removal of a child. Nicholson Some example which could result in removal would be where the parents were assaulting the child; the child was not being fed; the child was not being provided shelter or needed medical care; or the child was left alone at a young age.
If your child has been removed or if you are the subject of a Child Protective Services investigation, contact Tilem & Campbell toll free at 1-877-377-8666 or visit us on the web at www.tilemandcampbell.com.