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Somali children returned to parents

A Hennepin County district judge has ordered the return of 3 children to their Somali parents. The children had been removed from their home after the oldest child alleged physical abuse at the hands of her mother and stepfather. An order of protection does not appear to have been entered.

The report triggered an intervention by the Hennepin County Child Protection Services. According to the county attorney's office, the children were placed in a non-Somali shelter after the mother refused to work with social workers. The office further stated that it applies the same standard across cultures when investigating a case, and that it determined that abuse had occurred in this case. However, the mother's attorney claims that the agency ignored the mother's request for a translated parenting plan.

In Minnesota, allegations of domestic violence or child abuse are often accompanied by a request for an order of protection, which operates similar to a restraining order, except that it applies to a family member instead of a third party. If approved by a court, such an order could keep you away from your home and your children. Such orders typically also prohibit electronic communication via phone or e-mail.

If you have been served with an order of protection, don't delay in contacting an attorney. Even if you are innocent, the social stigma associated with an order of protection can be very damaging, and may even cost you your job. An attorney can prepare a thorough defense and be your best advocate at the hearing, helping you to avoid any sentencing.

If you are facing charges of violating an order of protection, the consequences can be severe, even if the contact between family members was accidental. If a violation is found, an attorney may be able to negotiate alternatives to jail time.

Source: StarTribune, "Judge orders 3 children returned to Somali parents," Abby Simons, June 14, 2012

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