Juan's Story

A Misunderstanding Threatens a Father's Rights

Juan and Elena had been dating for a short time when she became pregnant. Although Juan was prepared to raise the child with Elena, after a few months of living together he realized that she had mental health problems. As the birth of their child approached, Juan had second thoughts about living with Elena, but he was still determined support his child.

When his son Jason was born, Juan visited with Elena and the baby at the hospital several times. One night after he left, Elena had a severe mental breakdown and began loudly fighting with her hospital roommate and the roommate’s boyfriend. Due to concerns about the baby’s safety, the nurse on duty removed him from the room and wrote a report about the incident.

The next day, a hospital social worker reviewed the nurse’s notes—but the notes did not specify that the “boyfriend” mentioned was the boyfriend of the roommate. As a result, the social worker believed that Elena had gotten into a fight with her own boyfriend, Juan. Because of Elena’s erratic behavior and Jason’s removal, the social worker called the City’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). When Juan returned to the hospital, ACS informed him that he and Elena were being charged with neglect. Although he denied any involvement in the incident, he had to leave his son in the hospital while he went to Family Court to meet his CFR team of a lawyer and a social worker.

Because ACS had not investigated the nurse’s report, they incorrectly believed Juan was at fault and wanted to place Jason in foster care. CFR was able to convince the judge to allow him to take Jason to his brother’s home, where his family could help him out. CFR also helped Juan secure an order of protection against Elena to further ensure his child’s safety. Although Juan agreed to do whatever services ACS asked of him, he continued to insist that he had nothing to do with Elena’s fight and was being wrongfully charged.

The CFR team was able to track down the nurse who had written the report—she confirmed that Juan had not been present during the fight but had acted as a model father when he had visited several times. CFR presented this new information to the court and was soon able to get the charges against Juan dropped and his case withdrawn completely.

Today, Juan has full custody of Jason. Elena got the help she needed and is now stable, so Juan takes his son for supervised visits with her on a regular basis. Due to CFR’s thorough investigation, Juan and Jason are able to live together safely and permanently.