If a parent has concerns, that those allegations veer more towards negligence than recklessness or the concerns are of such nature that mutually agreeable protective restraints can be agreed upon between the parties to ensure the child’s safety, that often is a superior route to involving the agency. Once the agency gets the phone call, there is no exit strategy. The agency is required by law to investigate every call no matter how severe or benign the claim is. They leave only when they have had their concern resolved.
The fact that one parent may have made a call to the agency and then later rethought his or her position and said, “You know, I don’t think I want to go down that road anymore,” that’s not going to change the agency’s duty to follow its investigation through to make sure that there’s no concern. That often will prolong the divorce, and it will increase tension between the parties and anxiety for both the parents and the children. It accelerates emotional distress, and it certainly increases the cost and interrupts settlement efforts. It’s not always the best course of action for the family to have the agency involved if you can deal with the concerns some other way.
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