Can DHS Take My Husband’s Son Without Consulting Him First?

Question:   My husband has a son from a previous relationship. The mother of his child has refused to let him see his child for the last two and a half years. Now we have found out that my husband is being charged with neglect of the child, and that the child is in the custody of DHS. My husband had to go to court over this matter, and it has been held over for another court date. There is a permanancy hearing coming up in the near future.

The only paperwork we have received is a treatment plan for the mother that has requirements which can not be completed earlier than one year from the date of signature, which will be in July 2010. We just found out yesterday that the caseworker is recommending the child to be placed back with the mother, within one month from now, because the therapy sessions between the child and the mother are going so well. At this point, my husband has not been allowed to see the son or participate in his treatment in any way, even though he has tried to get involved. Also note that it took 3 1/2 months for us to be notified that DHS had taken custody of his child.

As of right now, my husband has not had the opportunity to tell his side of the situation to anyone, neither the court or caseworker. We are currently working on obtaining an attorney. What else can we do? I really don’t understand how the courts/caseworker can make these decisions without even consulting my husband or getting him involved in some way.

Since I do not practice in Colorado, you should definitely contact a domestic litigation attorney in Colorado immediately.  Cordell & Cordell has offices in Colorado and attorneys who would happy to assist you.  Cases involving children outside of a divorce or paternity are highly specific to each individual state.  In my jurisdiction, the Children’s Court would have exclusive jurisdiction over the custody and placement of the child while the case which would be July of 2010 at a minimum.  This means that your husband could not go to court to modify the current custody and placement arrangement until after the case is over at which point the child has already been returned to the mother.  Therefore, the only thing your husband could do would be to actively involve himself in the Children’s Court matter and pursue visitation and placement through the social worker.  However, Colorado could be completely different.  As such, you should contact a Colorado attorney to find out what his rights and options are in your jurisdiction.




Erica Christian is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association, the Family Law Section and the Children’s Law Section.

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