Reunifcation Services in DCFS Cases

When children are taken from parents on a temporary basis, often reunification services will be a part of the court order in the matter. Reunification services are typically offered by the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) as part of their actions involved in child abuse, neglect, or other related matters. The state of Utah is not a friendly place to be for parents facing allegation of misconduct relating to their children and reunification services are generally not a right in many instances. Many parents facing these struggles do not understand the law on reunification services and sometimes make the false assumption they will automatically be provided and as a result, they make the wrong decision in how to proceed in their case. Below is a short summary of some of the court decisions regarding reunification services in Utah. For more information, or to get legal advice specific to your situation, speak with a Utah Family Law Attorney in our office now.

State ex rel. N.C., 2009 UT App 17

  • The Juvenile Court does not have a duty to order reunification services in cases where there is sufficient evidence of sexual abuse.

In re M.Y., 2008 UT App 203

  • A parent who abandons his child is not entitled to reunification regardless of whether the state or a private party initiates the petition. No reunification services in the case of abandonment does not violate equal protection because it does not matter what party initiates the petition.

Interest of M.E.C., 942 P.2d 955 (1997)

  • A statutory duty does not exist requiring the state to first provide rehabilitative services in all circumstances before terminating a parent’s rights.
  • A finding of failure of parental adjustment necessarily requires a finding that DCFS made reasonable & appropriate efforts under § 78A-6-502(2).
  • Failure of parental adjustment is defined in § 78A-6-502(2) that a parent is unable or unwilling within a reasonable time to substantially correct the circumstances, conduct or conditions that led to placement of his/her children outside of his/her home, notwithstanding reasonable and appropriate efforts made by DCFS to return the child home.

These are just a few of the cases relating to reunification services in the Juvenile Courts. Anyone facing an abuse, neglect, or other action from DCFS and the state and are possibly having their parental rights terminated, should speak with a DCFS defense lawyer in our office now.

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