Sleepless nights are a familiar feature of every parent’s life in the early years, thought to be a hurdle of the job. Parents try so many things to help their children sleep, sometimes even resorting to drastic measures. In one such case out of New York, a mother who was giving her 8-year-old son Benadryl on a regular basis to help him sleep, lost custody of the young boy after a recent court ruling.
The case in question, the Matter of O’Dale UU. v. Lisa UU., involved parents who divorced in 2007, arriving at a joint custody agreement in which the mother was granted primary physical custody of their young son. The boy began having behavioral problems in 2013, which the mother described as “meltdowns.” At approximately the same time, the mother began giving the boy Benadryl three to four times per week, claiming it was to help him sleep. She admitted to providing the boy with two to three times the recommended dosage. After the father observed his son in what appeared to be a “zombie-like” state, he filed a motion with the court seeking sole custody.
Benadryl is an antihistamine, often used to treat allergies and known to cause drowsiness. The mother in this case did not consult with a doctor before giving her son the drug, but according to court documents, he had never exhibited allergies. Although the mother admitted to providing her son with Benadryl to help him sleep, the father insinuated that the mother may also be using the drug to manage her son’s unruly behavior.
The Ulster County Department of Social Services launched an investigation into the father’s claim and subsequently removed the child from his mother’s care. The father was then granted sole legal and physical custody of the boy, while the mother was granted visitation. A recent decision by the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, affirmed the ruling to remove the child from his mother’s care, to grant custody the father, and to provide the mother with parenting time. In their decision, the Appellate Panel stated the following:
“There is no question that the mother’s actions here demonstrated a flawed understanding of her role as a parent and evidenced a serious lack of judgment with respect to her child’s health, safety and overall well-being.”
This case illustrates the many circumstances that may prompt an investigation by child services and potentially, a parent losing custody of their child. In New Jersey, the agency that handles cases involving allegations of child abuse and neglect is the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), formerly known as the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). DCPP is tasked with protecting the safety and well-being of children in New Jersey, providing a 24-hour hotline to which individuals can report suspicions of child abuse and neglect. Any number of people can notify DCPP, including neighbors, doctors and nurses, emergency medical service technicians, police officers, teachers, babysitters, and of course, parents who suspect their child’s other parent is exposing him or her to harm.
If you have been accused of child abuse or neglect, are facing a DCPP investigation, have lost custody of your child, or are seeking a child custody modification because you suspect abuse or neglect on the part of your child’s other parent, it is essential to enlist an attorney who is well-versed in this area of New Jersey family law. At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our highly experienced attorneys regularly work on cases involving DCPP. We not only defend parents accused of abuse, but we also work as court-appointed child advocates. We have the knowledge and resources to protect and preserve your rights as a parent and to ensure the best interests of your child. Contact our offices in Bergen County today at 201-397-1750 for your cost-free consultation.
For additional information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Mother Who Gave Benadryl to 8-Year-Old Loses Custody