There are actually two different kinds of appeals that can be pursued from any agency determination of child abuse and neglect, depending on the outcome of the investigation. The worst outcome is when the allegation is substantiated. In that event, the parent has 20 days from the date they received the letter of written notification to request a hearing before the office of administrative law. This appeal involves a trial before an administrative law judge where you get to call witnesses and it’s just like a court trial.
The only difference is that it’s a different type of judge; it’s an administrative law judge instead of a superior court judge. There, you get to make a full factual record. If the outcome of the agency’s investigation is established – meaning the agency finds that there was child abuse but it’s not so severe that they think the outcome should be substantiated, which is the more severe finding – then you still have the right to appeal.
Unfortunately, you don’t get to have a trial. The way that you appeal is you write to the appellant division, you file a notice of appeal there, and you have a right to pursue that by virtue of arguing that the legal conclusion reached by the agency was not accurate. But that proceeds any type of appeal from any final judgment that’s entered.
Allison C. Williams is a matrimonial and family law attorney serving Short Hills New Jersey. Her practice places an emphasis on complex child welfare matters. www.familylawyersnewjersey.com