If you have minor children, a representative of the Department of Children and Family Services, (“DCFS”) may come knocking at your door. After an investigation is performed, either DCFS will determine that the allegation of abuse or neglect is unfounded, or DCFS will determine that the allegation is indicated. If you have a divorce or parentage case pending, this process can be intimidating.
If the allegation is unfounded, you will have nothing to worry about from DCFS, but does this exonerate you in family court? No. Whatever happens in your divorce or parentage case is totally separate from what happens with DCFS. The fact that DCFS has found that an allegation is unfounded is not binding upon the divorce or parentage case judge. If the other parent has made a claim that relates to the accusations that were the subject of the DCFS accusation, you will have to continue to defend against those claims in your divorce or parentage case.
What about the other way around? What if DCFS finds that an allegation of abuse or neglect is indicated? Can this finding be handed to the judge to prove your point? No. Just like how a DCFS finding that a claim is unfounded cannot exonerate you, a finding that abuse or neglect is indicated cannot condemn you. So if you want the subject of the DCFS allegation to be brought to light in your divorce or parentage case, you will have to file the appropriate motion or petition and move forward until an agreement is reached or the judge rules on the motion or petition.
However, if DCFS finds that an allegation of abuse of neglect is indicated, you can appeal. The hearing takes place before an administrative law judge who will make a determination regarding whether the indicated finding was correct.