At their core, every parent tries their best. When you’re juggling jobs to make ends meet and pay the bills, it’s all because you want the best for your children. Unfortunately, Child Protective Services don’t always see it that way. At the first sign of dissatisfaction, you can suddenly be labeled unfit as a parent, not to mention negligent or possible abusive.
As a parent, you know that you are always trying your hardest. Finding yourself in the middle of a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation not only disrupts your everyday life, but it is also disheartening and unsettling. For many parents, the experience is life-altering. It highlights unnecessary and unfounded doubts, as well as damages the emotional and mental well-being of the entire family.
Amid a CPS investigation, it’s easy to imagine the government taking your kids away. Don’t be afraid. With an expert team of skilled divorce attorneys and legal professionals, you can uphold your constitutional rights as a parent. Even CPS cannot trample custody rights without enough evidence. To fight unlawful or unfounded assessments from CPS, you can rely on a dynamic and compassionate legal team.
The Reason Behind CPS Investigations
Child Protective Services are designed to put the welfare and rights of children first. Your feelings as a parent are only secondary to this purpose. Investigations done by the CPS are conducted to ensure the safety of your child. Your child may be threatened by your spouse or significant other, a member of your house, or yourself.
Often, CPS investigations can feel like an attack on your person. The “failure to protect” allegation can seem like a death sentence. For many working parents, proving your capability is an uphill battle. Even something as innocent as dirty dishes in the sink or toys left on the ground count as a strike against you. These investigations aren’t meant to punish the parent, though it may sometimes feel like it. It’s all to protect the child from harm and to ensure their good life.
Initiating CPS Investigations in Michigan
CPS investigations aren’t unwarranted. They never appear out of nowhere without any cause to worry for a child’s safety or health. Sometimes, the report comes from doctors or teachers, and other persons who have access and responsibility towards the child.
Doctors and teachers are so-called mandatory reporters. When they see signs of child abuse or neglect, or at least have reasonable cause to believe that there has been forms of maltreatment, they are required to report it to authorities. Otherwise, they can lose their professional licenses or face criminal charges. Most of the time, doctors and teachers err on the side of caution to protect both themselves and the child.
If there is no evidence to the report, the incident comes to a close. However, once CPS determines that there is a basis to the suspicion of abuse or neglect, the following can take place:
- CPS may recommend services for the family to address behavioral and relationship issues.
- CPS may require family members to participate in certain services as proof of commitment.
CPS may bring up a petition to the family division of the local court. They may request the termination of your parental rights in this petition, which rarely happens. There is a preliminary determination to authorize the filing of the petition. Depending on the case, the child may or may not part with the parents as the case proceeds.
This type of aggressive action is reserved almost exclusively for sexual abuse and severe physical abuse. Before it escalates to this level, CPS commits to facilitating relationship counseling.
With the right legal team, you can send a competent response to this petition. There are several options. First, you can submit a plea admitting to the allegations. You can assert your right to a jury trial, and examine the preponderance of evidence.
Working with CPS Dispositional Hearings
Imagine that you plead your case, or you lose it. Your child will have to live elsewhere, such as with a competent relative or at a foster care environment.
Through the months, CPS will make reasonable efforts to provide services to fix the situation. There could be mandatory parenting classes and periodic drug testing for parents with substance abuse issues. CPS will regularly assess whether or not there has been progress.
In the vast majority of cases, the child is reunited happily with their parent.
Termination of Parental Rights
At the other end of the spectrum, your parental rights could terminate without the CPS offering services. This happens when the parent fails to comply with the program, or the assessments show lack of progress.
This is a difficult process to go through. Whether or not you prove your competence and compassion as a parent, or you lose your rights as a parent for the sake of the child, you need a strong support system with you. The Clark Law Office has the expertise and dedication to ensure that you get the legal support you need as you deal with CPS investigations.