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Common Mistakes to Avoid in CPS Cases: Simple Advice from Defense Lawyers

When Child Protective Services (CPS) gets involved with your family, it can feel overwhelming and scary. As experienced defense lawyers who’ve helped many families navigate these situations, we’ll share common mistakes you should avoid.

Here’s our advice.

1. Not Taking CPS Seriously

One of the biggest mistakes is thinking CPS won’t really do anything, and end up ignoring their communication, failing to meet deadlines, or not complying with home visit requests.

It’s important to understand that CPS has the authority to make significant decisions about your child’s welfare. Therefore, ignoring them or treating their inquiries lightly can lead to court actions and possibly, the removal of children from the home.

To avoid this, always take CPS visits, calls, and letters seriously and respond promptly.

If you’re unsure about how to proceed, seek legal advice. A lawyer experienced in CPS cases can help you understand your rights and responsibilities, ensuring you take the right steps to cooperate while protecting your family’s interests.

2. Not Asking for Help

Some people try to handle CPS cases by themselves because they feel embarrassed or think they can’t afford a lawyer. This can be a big mistake. Lawyers who know a lot about CPS can give you really good advice and help you understand what to do.

Even if you’re worried about the cost, there are lawyers who offer free first meetings, and there might be legal aid available to help you. Remember, asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a smart move to make sure you’re doing everything right for your family.

3. Talking Too Much

When you’re stressed, it’s easy to say too much or the wrong thing to a CPS worker. Remember, everything you say can be used in their investigation. It’s okay to be polite and answer questions, but you should also know you have the right to talk to a lawyer before answering anything that makes you uncomfortable.

This doesn’t mean you’re hiding something; it just means you’re being careful about how you handle the situation.

4. Not Following the Plan

If CPS decides your child can stay at home but you need to follow a safety plan, you should stick to it. This might include attending parenting classes or counseling. If you don’t follow the plan, CPS might decide your child isn’t safe and take further steps, which could include taking your child to live somewhere else temporarily.

5. Cleaning Up Too Much

While you want your home to be safe and clean for your child, over-cleaning before a CPS visit can actually raise suspicions. Your home doesn’t need to be perfect, but it should be a safe place for your child.

6. Refusing All Help

Sometimes, CPS offers services like counseling or help with housing. Even if you feel you don’t need it, refusing all help can look like you’re not interested in improving your situation. Be open to services that could actually support your family.

7. Not Keeping Records

Keep detailed records of all your interactions with CPS and any steps you’ve taken to follow their plan. This includes notes from meetings, copies of letters, and records of phone calls. This information can be very helpful if there are misunderstandings later.

8. Getting Angry

Dealing with CPS can be frustrating, but losing your temper with CPS workers or in court can harm your case. Emotional outbursts may be interpreted as evidence of instability or inability to provide a safe, nurturing environment for your child.

Instead, focus on constructive ways to express and manage your emotions. For example, seeking support from friends, family, or a professional counselor.

When interacting with CPS workers or attending court, strive to remain calm and composed. Presenting yourself as cooperative and willing to engage in the process can positively influence the perceptions of those involved in your case.

9. Ignoring Court Orders

If your CPS case goes to court, the judge may order you to attend parenting classes, undergo drug testing, or participate in family counseling. Failing to follow court orders can lead to severe consequences, such as being held in contempt of court or losing custody of your child.

Follow all court orders exactly, even if you disagree with them.

View court orders as an opportunity to show your commitment to resolve the concerns raised by CPS. Keep detailed records of your compliance, such as certificates of completion for classes or documentation of counseling sessions. These records will show the court your progress and commitment to your child’s well-being.

10. Not Focusing on Your Child

The most important thing in all of this is your child. CPS’s main job is to make sure children are safe. So, when you’re working with CPS or following their plan, always think about what’s best for your child. This might mean making some tough changes or accepting help you didn’t think you needed. But in the end, it’s all about making sure your child has a safe and loving home.

Final Words

Dealing with CPS can be challenging, but avoiding these common mistakes can help protect your rights and your family. Remember to take CPS seriously, ask for legal help, and focus on what’s best for your child. Stay calm, be prepared, and always keep your child’s best interests at heart.

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