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The possibility of losing your children is more than many parents can bear. Getting the representation you deserve to protect your rights is never more important than when you are faced with a CPS case. You have rights under the law and an experienced CPS attorney will help you navigate the system to work toward a positive outcome for everyone. The LawInfo directory can assist you in finding a verified CPS lawyer in Fayette.
When a CPS worker visits a home, they’ll look for signs that indicate how safe a home is or not. For example, is it exceedingly dirty to the point it poses a health hazard? Is there adequate food? Are there open signs of illegal activity like drug paraphernalia? Are dangerous objects or weapons easily accessible to children? Do the children have appropriate necessities? They won’t expect a spotless, perfect home, just one that meets reasonable safety standards. They’ll also be gauging your and your family’s behavior and will likely want to interview some or all of you to get a better sense of your routine and the kind of home life you have.
CPS can usually only remove a child from their home if there’s a valid, reasonable concern for the child’s safety. An order for removal is typically granted by a judge, either after an investigation or before an investigation if they consider your situation such a severe emergency that it requires instant separation. Emergency removal cases are rare, however, so unless there is an immediate threat, an investigation will need to take place first. Cases of neglect and abuse are the most likely causes for CPS to take your children.
If a CPS caseworker contacts you as part of an investigation against you, you have some options for how to respond. Unless the caseworker has a warrant signed by a judge, you don’t have to let them into your home. You can also refuse to answer questions, and if your kids are home with you, you could prevent the caseworker from interviewing them at that time. However, your case will remain open and the investigation will continue. They may be able to come back with a search warrant to enter your home, get a court order to interview your children, or may even be allowed to interview your kids while they’re at school, even without your permission.
CPS exists to take care of children and families, but the process doesn’t always go perfectly each time. If you have a complaint about a CPS employee, you can try to talk to them directly and then escalate your concern to their manager if the employee is not willing to work things out with you. There are several levels of supervision within the CPS system, and you can escalate complaints all the way up to the state director. Some jurisdictions will even have a dedicated ombudsman who will investigate administrative complaints. If your concern applies more to systematic or policy issues within CPS, you may have related community organizations in your area you can contact, or you can reach out to your state representatives.
Minor children are considered legally dependent on adult caretakers. When a child is left without a guardian who can take care of them, Child Protective Services may intervene and petition the courts to step in to support the child as a dependency case. Children may end up as dependents of the court if there’s evidence that they’re being abused by their parent or guardian, if their caretaker is neglecting or has abandoned them, or if the guardian becomes incarcerated, is struggling with substance abuse, or is otherwise unable to take care of the child. In most cases, the courts will try to assign programs to help the parents or guardians gain resources and education to better care for their children for family reunification. When that’s not possible, the children will usually wind up living with another relative or in foster care.
An attorney can often resolve your particular legal issue faster and better than trying to do it alone. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal system, while avoiding costly mistakes or procedural errors. You should seek out an attorney whose practice focuses on the area of law most relevant to your issue.
The goal of an initial consultation is to find an attorney you are comfortable working with and someone who can help you understand your options under the law. Seek to understand the relevant legal experience the attorney brings to your case. While it is not realistic to expect an attorney to resolve your legal issue during an initial consultation, you should gain a level of comfort with his/her ability to do so. A good consultation can clarify issues, raise pertinent questions and considerations for your case, and help you make an informed decision towards resolving your legal issue.
Bill by the hour: Many attorneys bill by the hour. How much an attorney bills you per hour will vary based on a number of factors. For instance, an attorney’s hourly fee may fluctuate based on whether that hour is spent representing you in court or doing research on your case. Attorneys in one practice area may bill you more than attorneys in a different practice area.
Contingent fee: Some lawyers will accept payment via contingent fee. In this arrangement, the lawyer receives a percentage of the total monetary recovery if you win your lawsuit. In sum, the lawyer only gets paid if you win. Contingent fee agreements are limited to specific practice areas in civil law.
Flat fee: For “routine” legal work where the attorney generally knows the amount of time and resources necessary to complete the task, he/she may be willing to bill you a flat fee for services performed.
Plaintiff – a person or party who brings a lawsuit against another person(s) or party/parties in a court of law. Private persons or parties can only file suit in civil court.
Judgment – A decision of the court. Also known as a decree or order. Judgments handed down by the court are usually binding on the parties before the court.