In my last article, I talked about the CPS mediation process and what parents can expect when they enter into that process. Obviously, parents in mediation are concerned as to what the outcome will be, especially given that their parental rights lie in the balance.
Of course, many of the parents who go through this process are looking toward reunification with their children, and this can certainly happen. If it’s an interim mediation before the final trial, we might talk about the child’s placement and visitation for the parent, which might include conditions for greater visitation, or even a CPS-monitored placement with one or both parents to gauge how the child is doing under parental care.
There might be different courses of action for the parents in transitioning from the status quo to reunification, which includes different or additional components to a CPS service plan.
There can be an impasse in mediation, of course, and should that happen, the case will proceed to a final trial.
There is, of course, the possibility of relinquishment of parental rights-certainly a hard truth in this, but one that might be deemed the best possible course of action for the child.
If parents haven’t complied with their service plans, and don’t show a lot of participation, or only show participation late in the process, relinquishment may be an option. There would be an affidavit signed in the mediation, in front of two witnesses and a notary, whereby a parent or both parents would relinquish parental rights. That goes into the mediated settlement agreement, which would also include information about the child’s continued placement.
Even after parents relinquish rights, and a child might be moving toward permanent adoption, there’s typically a six-month period of placement with the adoptive family, to gauge that everything is going well, before adoption can be made official.
For the parents relinquishing rights, though, there are specific parameters set for making it final. The negotiations typically involve allowing the parent giving up parental rights to have one or two goodbye visits, and getting regular photos of the child, but otherwise, the parent and child will live separately. A child in this situation needs stability, and the reemergence of a parent who has relinquished rights would just be too confusing for the child. It’s obviously a difficult decision for everyone to come to, but in some cases, it will really be the best option for the child.
As an attorney who knows and trusts the mediation process, I’m not only able to guide clients through the mediation process, but I can also recommend and put forth effective negotiating strategies for CPS mediations. As an experienced mediator, I know what strategies work best, and in knowing the community of mediators in Bexar County, I have an insight and a perspective that are particularly helpful to my clients. If you’re in a CPS case that could be resolved through mediation, I’d be happy to meet with you, discuss your case, and help give you an idea of what the possible outcomes might be.