In this article, we discuss the removal of a child from a parent based on findings of neglect and answer the following questions:
Neglect of a minor is a very serious charge. If found guilty of child neglect, the penalties can be substantial, including hefty fines and jail time; and the child is often removed from the parent’s custody. However, neglect can be a very broad term, and it’s up to the court to determine if the defendant’s conduct constitutes neglect. Parents can make bad decisions in stressful situations, but is removing the child from the parent always the right move? Each case must be examined individually and then the findings applied to the previous case law. Hopefully, through this process, the court can make a decision that is in the best interest of the child.
The statutory definition of a neglected minor exists in the Juvenile Court Act of 1987. It describes neglect in detail, which is summarized below:
When determining whether a child was left without regard for his mental or physical health, safety or welfare, or the time was unreasonable, the courts will consider the following factors:
We often hear of medical neglect cases that involve a parent refusing to accept medical treatment for their child due to religious beliefs. This doesn’t include non-life-threatening medical decisions, such as getting a child vaccinated or giving them medicine for flu symptoms. For medical neglect to be considered, the situation must involve medical intervention that if withheld would have a significant and nearly guaranteed impact on the minor’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being or may result in their short-term or long-term demise. A perfect example of this is a case that set the precedent for future medical neglect cases. It involved parents refusing a blood transfusion for a child knowing that the child will most certainly die or be mentally impaired for life.
In cases of medical neglect, the state extends the right to take temporary protective custody over a minor to the treating physician, a local law enforcement officer, or a designated employee of DCFS without consent of the parent or guardian. The right is granted if the person taking temporary custody believes that the child is in imminent danger and there is not enough time to apply for a court order.
There are many examples of minors being removed from their parents or guardians due to violence. But what if no harm is directed toward the child in question but another family member or individual living in the home is the target of abuse? Can the court remove all minors from the situation or only those directly affected by the abuse?. In addition to the evidence presented in the case, the court must consider several questions, including:
The court will have to consider these questions and more when determining if minors living in the presence of regular and consistent violence should also be removed from the parents even though they were not the target of the abuse. When considering a household that has multiple minors but only one is being abused, or a household in which one adult is violent towards another, if the court anticipates a potential problem for the other minors in the future it will very likely order the children be removed.
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