By Leslie M. Kissinger, Esq.
Let an Attorney Protect Your Parental Rights
The threat of a Child Protective Services investigation strikes fear in the heart of even the most confident parents. There are reasons to be wary. Child welfare investigations can be triggered by otherwise innocuous events or inescapable hard times. The consequences can be daunting.
Oklahoma CPS investigations threaten the tender bonds between parents and children, raising doubts about a parent’s care and concern. Child Protective Services might question your parenting style. The Dept. of Human Services could even take your children.
When a child welfare agency comes calling, it’s time to call an attorney knowledgeable in CPS investigation defense. Here’s why.
First, a CPS defense attorney can help you avoid making things worse. While you try to explain matters, child welfare investigators are trained to get information about child abuse or neglect. Whatever you say could lead to additional allegations. A casual comment or joke intended to ease tension could be used as evidence against you. An attorney who knows how child welfare investigators work can advise you what to say and what not to say. An attorney can stand by your side while Dept. of Human Services investigators look for evidence supporting allegations against you.
Another advantage is that an experienced CPS investigations defense attorney working for you can walk you through the process. An investigation could lead to emergency removal of children. An investigation could lead to a show-cause hearing where the Dept. of Human Services argues for termination. They try to show why you should not be allowed custody of your children. What’s next? What are your options? What is a “safety plan” and why would you need one? A CPS investigations attorney has answers to those questions.
Parents vs. Policies
A third advantage of pre-filing representation in a CPS investigation is that a CPS defense attorney knows the child-welfare agency’s policies. Like other bureaucracies, policy reigns supreme at DHS. Policies might not make sense, but they rule the day.
For example, when Child Protective Services suggests a safety plan as an alternative to permanent removal, you’ll need to suggest a qualified adult – usually family member — to care for your children. You might not know that misdemeanors or a DUI from 20 years ago could disqualify a grandparent as a temporary step-parent in your safety plan.
Policies could also ruin your chances of a successful outcome when an overeager parent reveals information that triggers investigators to pursue policy violations other than the complaint that brought them to your door.
For every parental decision, there are naysayers who would have it done some other way. Critics may anonymously call DHS, triggering an investigation. Likewise, therapists and healthcare professionals are obligated to call child welfare investigators about conduct shared in the privacy of a clinical setting. Conflict between parents might spark a CPS investigation, with police officers obligated to report certain observations.
Whatever triggered an investigation, the stakes can be life-changing. Don’t try to go it alone. Get a qualified CPS defense lawyer on your side as soon as possible.
Society tends to reward self-confidence, but when CPS gets involved, self-confidence can be your worst enemy. Especially at show-cause hearings, parents often arrive filled with confidence that their good intentions and character will be enough to persuade a court to let their children remain in their home. Their confidence is almost always misplaced.
While the parent may have never before attended a hearing, the prosecutor routinely puts on hearings. Courtroom appearances are likewise routine for the DHS child-welfare investigator presenting evidence against you.
What’s to lose, many parents ask. The state has already taken their kids. Parents often see a show-cause hearing as their first chance to tell their story. That’s where the trouble starts.
As with an investigation, parents at a show cause hearing might be nervous and eager to talk. Nervous parents at a hearing may unknowingly validate the State’s charges. They may create new evidence that supports criminal charges. An attorney can help you avoid making blunders that dig an even deeper hole for your family.
A CPS defense attorney will look beyond the one-page document filed for a show-cause hearing. An attorney can exercise your right to see all the evidence against you, before you arrive in court. A CPS investigation defense attorney can review investigators field reports and interview transcripts. Your attorney can find out what Child Protective Services has against you.
You might be tempted to testify at a show-cause hearing. CPS attorneys may be eager to get you on the stand, where they hope to cinch the case against you. Your CPS defense attorney can weigh advantages and disadvantages with you, and prepare you if you do decide to testify.
Free Consultation: CPS Defense Attorney
With Oklahoma deprived child cases, it is important to get started in the right direction as soon as possible. Whether an attorney manages to scuttle the investigation with persuasive evidence in your behalf, or helps you navigate through a safety plan, or placement and an eventual reunification plan, an attorney can chart the best path forward.
An attorney’s involvement can make the difference in a case that resolves quickly or, like some, drags on for years. An attorney can help you maintain an intact family during the precious fleeting childhood years.
For a confidential, free consultation with an Oklahoma CPS investigations defense attorney, call 918-276-2444, or send an inquiry using the contact form on this Website.