In my last article, I discussed some facets of a CPS investigation to keep in mind when you’re innocent. It’s important, ultimately, to comply with what CPS request in order to protect your parental rights and keep in contact with your children. But as I discussed, it’s also important to protect yourself if complying with CPS requests would interfere with your job and your livelihood.
The most important to-do at the outset is to be truthful and complete with your lawyer. It could be that you’re completely innocent of the allegations, and that those allegations are complete works of fiction. It’s also possible that there’s an exaggeration or some misinterpretation of something you did. Your lawyer can only truly, fully help you if he or she knows the full story of what happened from your perspective.
Then, and only then, can the two sides of the story be put together. While we might be thinking of these cases as ones where a parent is wantonly lying to force a CPS investigation and make the other person’s life miserable, it can sometimes be a difference of perspective.
Maybe, for example, one parent feels a child is being kept up too late and isn’t getting enough sleep, whereas the other parent is keeping the child up to do homework that the school is requiring. While that in and of itself might not trigger an investigation, I’ve worked with individuals dealing with those kinds of allegations as part of a more far-reaching CPS investigation. Being able to provide context for a CPS investigator on a point like this can bring needed perspective to help the parent being investigated.
When providing context, you need to always make sure your communications with CPS are in writing, via email or text message. The case workers often have multiple cases, so they might forget to notate a conversation with you, where you divulged important information. Not having documented records of your conversations with CPS can hurt you, because then you have no proof of something you said or information you gave that can often help your case.
Make sure, no matter what, you don’t talk to your kids about the other parent in regard to the investigation. Saying, “You don’t need to worry about that” and “we both love you” is always the best course of action.
Also, there’s the potential in some CPS cases to go to a psychologist to establish where your mental health is, but that can be risky going in, and people in CPS investigations need to be very careful about those kinds of evaluations, as CPS has open access to records. It’s not like going to your counselor where you have a safe space in which you can work things out.
In the end, there still might be steps you need to take to satisfy CPS requirements, regardless of whether or not you’re innocent. It could be that making your case helps mitigate what would have been required of you, but you still have to do some things to satisfy CPS and close your case.
Don’t lose heart, if that’s the case! It will feel unfair and that will be perfectly understandable. But it will also clearly, certainly be important to keep your parental rights while everyone’s assured that your children are being kept safe.