No two Child Protective Services (CPS) cases are the same, so it’s hard to conclusively and definitively say how much it will cost you to defend yourself in a CPS case. If your right to parent your child is at risk because of a CPS investigation, you’ll certainly want to do whatever you can to keep from losing that right. It is helpful, however, to know what forces might drive those cost up.
First of all, the nature of the allegations will factor in to the complexity of the case, and therefore how intensely it will involve your lawyer. If the allegations are severe enough to merit an emergency removal, as opposed to just an investigation, it will be more challenging – and typically take more hours for your legal team – to successfully advocate on your behalf. While it’s possible to fight for access to your child in an emergency removal situation, CPS is obviously less inclined to grant it.
There are also costs involved with some elements of a plan allowing for reunification. For example, if a parent has substance abuse issues, and needs treatment for those issues before reunification can take place, that can dramatically increase the cost involved. Certainly though, if those issues exist, it’s worth it to address them and be clean going forward.
It’s also possible that a case could involve addressing criminal charges as well as whatever CPS brings forward. Depending on the nature and severity of the criminal charges, it can add significant time and cost to defend against those. Obviously, if the defense against the criminal charges isn’t successful, or if there’s a plea bargain requiring jail time, it complicates the reunification plan considerably. But even if a criminal defense is successful, it adds to the CPS side of the workload.
It’s also costly, but sometimes necessary, to deal with other family members who might want to intervene in the care of the child. This can start with litigating interim placement – if you feel strongly about who shouldn’t be in your child’s life, and the court is trying to award that interim placement to someone you feel isn’t a good fit – and can extend all the way to a legal battle for who will ultimately get custody of the child.
At the Law Office of Lisa Vance, we will review your case in an initial consultation that covers what complicating factors there are in your case, and let you know what initial retainer is necessary for us to move forward in your case. While we’ll talk to you about strategies that will help you keep legal costs down over the entire process, we’ll also be frank and realistic about what your case will entail – based on our experience in cases just like yours, as well as cases that are even more costly and complicated than yours.