Child Abuse/Neglect

Child abuse/neglect involve allegations of serious injury or risk of injury to children caused by the actions or inactions of one or more parents. Most often, child abuse/neglect cases are initiated by the New Hampshire Division of Children Youth or Families Bureau of Child Protection , but private actions may be initiated for abuse/neglect by anyone.

Child abuse/neglect is not merely bad parenting or the normal run of the mill accidents occurring in a child’s life. Abuse is defined by statute as involving sexual abuse, or physical or psychological injury to children by other than accidental means. Neglect means failure to provide proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for a child’s physical, mental, or emotional health, when it is established that the child’s health has suffered or is very likely to suffer serious impairment.

A child abuse/neglect case involves substantial involvement of the State in the rights and responsibilities of parents and children. As such, a great many rights and protections of parents accused of abuse/neglect apply, such as the right to court appointed attorneys for indigent parents who are accused as well as regular and frequent hearings to monitor the progress of an abused/neglected child and the parent(s).

“Abuse/Neglect cases involve serious consequences that can even lead to the termination of parental rights. “

Children are appointed a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) guardian ad litem for their protection in the case as well as DCYF social workers monitoring all the family’s activities.

A court finding of child abuse/neglect carries serious consequences. The Court will make a dispositional order in the case that requires specific activities by the abusive parent to correct the conditions of abuse within a 12 month time period. Parents are made financially responsible for the costs of State services provided for the welfare of the child in an abuse/neglect proceeding, which can amount to many thousands of dollars.

Failure to correct the conditions of abuse within that time period after reasonable efforts by the State will be grounds for termination of parental rights.