If your CPS case has gotten as far as a permanency or termination hearing, something has gone terribly wrong. It may be that you represented yourself in the preceding steps of the process and were unsuccessful. It could be that you didn’t really understand what you needed to do. It could be that you didn’t know how to persuade the court. Regardless of what has happened before, if you are facing a permanency or termination proceeding, you urgently need an attorney to represent you and to help you get your children back.
It is important to understand what a permanency hearing is and how it fits into the scope of a CPS removal process. Before the permanency hearing is scheduled, the court in conjunction with the Dept. of Human Services (DHS) will have developed a plan for the parents of the child or children involved. The plan will outline all the benchmarks that a parent or parents must meet to move toward reunification with their children. The permanency hearing is the way the court checks upon the parents’ progress.
Plans can include such things as attending drug treatment, parenting classes, domestic violence classes, getting a steady job, or completing a GED. At the permanency hearing, the court will hear evidence from you and from the DHS worker assigned to your case about how you are doing about achieving the plan’s benchmarks. The DHS worker assigned to your case will handle just the permanency part of your case. The permanency worker’s job is to help you complete the court-ordered plan so that you can be reunified with your children.
Permanency hearings are scheduled periodically. That means that you will likely have more than one hearing to show your progress. Some courts schedule them monthly. Some courts schedule them every three months. At the hearing, various agencies give their reports and you and your attorney have the opportunity to respond to their reports.
The state prosecutor, the child’s attorney, the DHS worker, and the parents’ attorneys will all be present. In addition, if the child involved is Indian, a representative of the tribe may be present. Finally, if a neutral party agency such as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is involved, they may be present as well.
Proving You Have Done Enough
The goal is to prove to the court that you have done enough to get your kids back. This is where having a CPS attorney can be helpful. A CPS attorney knows what the court wants to hear. They know how to be persuasive. This can be particularly helpful when the plan criteria can be interpreted subjectively.
To some extent, the plan can be thought of as a list of benchmarks that you can just check off a list. However, if all the benchmarks have been completed but objectionable conditions still exist, a DHS worker is likely to point that out to the court and argue against reunification at the present time.
You may have completed all the tasks that DHS and the court set out for you. Your attorney can highlight all that you have done and accomplished and can help the court understand why you need to get your kids back. Remember that courts always want to work toward reunification if possible. The court also knows that separating a child from his or her parents is extremely traumatic for the child. Your attorney can help the court understand why reunification is a good idea now. Your attorney is the only person in the room who is totally on your side and will always have your back.
If all goes well during the permanency hearings, the court will order reunification. Reunification is a process. During that time, a DHS worker continues to work with you and provide the services that you need. This can mean more frequent and longer visitation, a trial home visit, and post-reunification services once your child comes home. But DHS workers are often overloaded. They can let things slip through the cracks. Your CPS attorney can help hold a DHS worker accountable for the services you need for successful reunification. This process can take weeks or months depending on the circumstances of the case.
If all else has failed and you are facing a termination hearing it is crucial that you have an attorney represent you. These hearings are about terminating a parent’s rights to their children. That is a prerequisite to placing the child up for adoption. This can involve a hearing or a trial. In either case, the stakes are high, and the process is complicated. Never try to do this without having an attorney represent you.
These hearings are usually scheduled when the court doesn’t feel there is enough progress being made the parents at the permanency hearings. This can happen if the court doesn’t really understand the parents’ progress or if the parents are not able to articulate their progress. Sometimes, the court doesn’t fully understand the impediments to progress and move the matter to termination as a matter of course. Whatever the reason, if you are facing a termination hearing, you must have an attorney who can help the court understand what happened and help you and your family get back on track. By state law, the prosecutor only must wait 90 days or three months after your plan is ordered to file for termination of your parental rights.
Free Consultation: CPS Investigations Lawyer
While termination is appealable, the appeal is seldom granted. From beginning to end, your attorney will fight for you for your family. They will help you and guide you and give everything they can to keep your family together. Don’t face this alone. Get the help you need and deserve. Call the CPS defense attorney at (918) 276-2444 today.