Lead Counsel independently verifies CPS attorneys in Lynchburg by conferring with Virginia bar associations and conducting annual reviews to confirm that an attorney practices in their advertised practice areas and possesses a valid bar license for the appropriate jurisdictions.
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 Lynchburg.
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.
In legal practice, experience matters. An experienced attorney will likely have handled issues similar to yours many, many times. Therefore, after listening to your situation, the attorney should have a reasonable idea of the time line for a case like yours and the likely resolution.
A reputable attorney will be very upfront about how he/she will charge you. The three most common fee structures that attorneys use to charge for their services are:
Depending on your specific legal situation, it’s possible that only one type of fee structure is available. For instance, criminal defense attorneys almost always bill by the hour. In a flat fee arrangement, an attorney accepts a one-time payment to help you resolve your issue. With a contingent fee agreement, the client pays little to nothing upfront and the attorney receives a percentage of the money recovered if you win your case.
Pro se – This Latin term refers to representing yourself in court instead of hiring professional legal counsel. Pro se representation can occur in either criminal or civil cases.
Statute – Refers to a law created by a legislative body. For example, the laws enacted by Congress are statutes.
Subject matter jurisdiction – Requirement that a particular court have authority to hear the claim based on the specific type of issue brought to the court. For example, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court only has subject matter jurisdiction over bankruptcy filings, therefore it does not have the authority to render binding judgment over other types of cases, such as divorce.