Legal proceedings involving Child Protective Services (CPS)–especially for cases in which the state is evaluating the termination of a person’s parental rights–can be incredibly involved. Our firm provides legal services to parents, grandparents, and other relatives who find themselves involved with CPS cases. That’s something we take great pride in, as it’s one of the most complex areas of family law.
In a typical case involving the termination of parental rights, the state has 12 months to make a determination based on allegations of neglect or abuse (with a six-month extension possible). Note that within a particular case, there can be multiple hearings to monitor a parent’s (or parents’) ability to comply with the requirements in order to retain their parental rights.
Let’s say, though, that a case is closed, with the court ruling that a parent should retain his or her parental rights, and then let’s say that there’s another allegation three months later about abuse. A new case would begin, but it is likely that information from the past case would factor into this new case.
Ultimately, each CPS case has an initial goal of reunification for the family–the state doesn’t take separating parents from their children lightly. If it’s determined that a child does need to be taken from the possession of the parents as the case remains open, placement may be with a relative (a kinship placement) if the relative passes a background check and complies with CPS requirements.
One of the most important things to remember in these cases is that, no matter how much the state seems to be aligned with you at the outset of the investigation or litigation, you need representation. The CPS attorney is not your attorney. If a case changes from an investigative to legal removal (court case), you might find yourself trying to navigate a complex case on your own until the court appoints an attorney or you retain an attorney. You may find that legal representation early on in a CPS investigation may clear up misunderstandings or misunderstandings that would otherwise lead to a court case.