Appealing a Substantiated New Haven DCF Decision

Hearing decisions made by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families are notoriously difficult to reverse. Unfortunately, these decisions can have far-reaching consequences, and they often separate parents from the children who need them.

If you recently attended a DCF hearing and you do not agree with the decision made by the hearing officer, you do have a legal right to appeal the decision. Filing an appeal on your own is not an easy task, and if you do not know the best way to go about appealing a substantiated New Haven DCF decision, your appeal will probably not be successful. A capable DCF attorney could help you appeal the decision, and pursue a positive outcome for you.

How Superior Courts Arrive at Decisions

If a person elects to appeal a decision made by a DCF hearing officer, they must file an appeal to appear in a Superior Court. The Superior Court officer has the power to overturn the decision of the lower court, but it is important to note they would only have access to the following information from the initial hearing:

  • Written notices relating to the case
  • Petitions, motions, and pleadings
  • Collected evidence
  • Official recording of the hearing
  • Questions, rulings, and objections affecting both parties

Of course, the Superior Court would also have access to the ruling made by the DCF court. During the appeal proceedings, the accused individual may also ask the appellate court to temporarily block any actions ordered by the lower court. If they fail to do this, the DCF automatically places their name on the child and abuse registry.

Decision Reversals are Rare

It is important for individuals to understand that filing an appeal is not the same as requesting a new trial. Superior Courts seldom reverse decisions made by hearing officers, and their scope of review is extremely limited.

The Superior Court will not fully retry the case and implement its own judgment, and it will not accept testimony from new witnesses. When it comes to interpreting witness testimony, the Superior Court relies on a character assessment made by the hearing officer.

Simply put, if the initial DCF hearing officer believes a witness is trustworthy and their testimony is reliable, the Superior Court would take the testimony of the witness into consideration as well. If the decision made by the hearing officer is well supported with evidence and witness testimony, it will more than likely be upheld by the Superior Court.

How a DCF Attorney Could Help

As mentioned above, appealing a substantiated New Haven DCF decision without the help of an attorney can be remarkably difficult. There is a very strong possibility the Superior Court will agree with the decision made by the decision officer, and it is not possible for accused individuals to introduce new evidence or witnesses.

Filing a successful appeal may seem like a long shot, but if a person wants to increase their chances of filing a successful appeal, they may need to hire an attorney who understands the law and how it relates to the Department of Children and Families. A skilled lawyer may be able to help parents and guardians craft a new legal strategy and help them decide how to best proceed with their appeal.

Call an Attorney Before Appealing a Substantiated DCF Decision in New Haven

In short, successfully appealing a substantiated New Haven DCF decision may be difficult, but it is not impossible. With the right legal time on their side, parents and guardians can defend their rights and maximize their chances of filing a successful appeal. Call an attorney with a background in family law today to discuss your case.