Can The Anticipatory Neglect Doctrine Be Used To Remove Kids From A Home?

Everyone makes mistakes at one time or another. Unfortunately, the consequences of a mistake can persist for years and even an entire lifetime. Case in point, under a doctrine called anticipatory neglect, a parent's previous acts of abuse and/or neglect towards children may be used to take kids from the home even if those kids haven't been harmed. Here's more information about this issue.

About Anticipatory Neglect

Although the exact wording may vary between states that use this doctrine, anticipatory neglect is a law that allows child protection authorities to temporarily remove kids from a home based on a parent's previous or current conduct towards other children. The authorities are not required to wait for the children to be physically harmed to take action, but there must be evidence of some type of current abuse or neglect.

For instance, authorities in Illinois removed three kids from a couple's care because the mother was previously convicted of child endangerment in the drowning deaths of her first three children. Allegedly, she and her boyfriend at the time drove a vehicle with her first set of three kids inside into a lake where they drowned while she and the man escaped unharmed.

Although the woman's second set of three kids that she had after she was released from jail don't appear to have been physically harmed, the state removed them from her care using the anticipatory neglect doctrine based on the her past, domestic violence between the woman and her current husband, evidence of substance abuse, and the woman's failure to submit to mental illness treatment.

Fighting Against the Anticipatory Neglect Doctrine

When children are taken from the home under the anticipatory neglect doctrine, parents have the burden of proving the children will come to no harm in their care in order to get them back. Failure to do so can result in the kids being permanently removed and parental rights to them terminated.

Defending against anticipatory neglect accusations can be challenging, but there are ways to fight back. One way is to show that the injurious conditions that concerned the child welfare authorities either weren't or are no longer a factor. For instance, if child welfare is concerned about a substance abuse problem, going through a drug and alcohol treatment program (or showing that you already completed rehab) may convince the court the potential danger to the children has been mitigated.

Another option is to challenge the veracity of the evidence. For instance, if the child protection service is basing its seizure of the children on hearsay, you can present witnesses that dispute the testimony proffered by the agency's witnesses.

There are several other things you can do to get your children back if they were taken because of the anticipatory neglect doctrine. Contact a family law firm, such as the Watson Law Firm, for more information about this issue or assistance with your case.