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What to know before dealing with a CPS investigation when you're innocent

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It's a paradox I've seen in my time working on Child Protective Services cases: There are situations in which children really need to be protected in which CPS does nothing, and then there are cases where there are good parents who are doing a good job who are investigated. Sometimes, it's a CPS officer who is new or overzealous, who has a heart in the right place, and who wants to help children.

But in some cases, it's sad to say, CPS officers will do investigations and act at the urging of a parent who is using the CPS process to make things difficult for the other parent. The parents on the receiving end of this tactic are in a bind: They have to cooperate and comply in order to maintain their parental rights, but they also want to fight the allegations to clear their good names.

The first thing to know about the CPS investigation process is that the complaint will remain anonymous. You may know that it's the other parent or that person's family members who are lodging the complaints, but you don't get to know, officially, who is making the claim. A lawyer defending you will want to know who might have knowledge of what's being alleged, along with motivations for someone to make a false allegation.

Another thing to know in the CPS investigation is that the officer may not seek any evidence that would clear you in the case. The investigation will more likely seek to locate you in the time and place that the alleged abuse occurred.

The whole process is set up to protect children, so if the investigator believes that some negligence or abuse has occurred, then the parent will be required to go through various steps to satisfy CPS that the situation is resolved or that the parent is able to continue in an active role in the child's life.

That will typically mean counseling and anger management sessions as part of an overall plan. Those can be very time-consuming, and can even interfere with people's work schedules ... causing a dilemma in the most extreme cases of keeping a job vs. keeping parental rights.

That's a reason it might be necessary to push back on a CPS investigation before it gets to the point where a parent is being asked to take steps toward "better parenting" that aren't necessary.

If you're in a situation where you're facing allegations that are unfounded, you should talk to a lawyer experienced in CPS matters about your case. At the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance, we're experienced in numerous facets of CPS cases, including those involving false accusations. While we believe strongly in protecting children, we see that extending to making sure that good parents get to maintain their parental rights and continue to love and care for their children.

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