Q: What are my rights with DHR?
In August, I fled an abusive relationship, from NC, with the father of my children. I returned to my hometown. Having no other options at the time, my children and I ended up in a tent for around two weeks. The children slept on mattresses inside the tent, fully clothed, and covered with blankets. We had clean running water, electricity, and plenty of food. DHR showed up with a sheriff somewhere around 9-10 PM, stating that if I didn't get them indoors immediately, that they were going to take my children. I did. I got the children indoors immediately. They have been living/sleeping indoors since that day. Now DHR is demanding drug tests and setting forth other stipulations. The only complaint was that the kids were sleeping outside. I have complied without fail to have the children sleeping indoors every night. I have not received a single piece of paper from DHR. Not a copy of the complaint or anything, How do I get them to drop the case? Or what do I do?
A: You should hire an attorney. You are not required to submit to DHR requested drug screens. However, if you refuse, DHR will often use that to justify removing the children. If so, you will have a 72-hour hearing and you should request an attorney be appointed to represent you at the 72-hour hearing. If the juvenile court awards DHR custody at that hearing, you only have 14 days to challenge that decision at the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. It sounds like DHR has not filed a petition for protective supervision or custody at this point; however, it is often inevitable, but there is no way to simply get DHR to close a case unless there is no evidence of abuse/neglect or all of their demands have been complied with.
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