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Help for Parents in Dealing with Child Protective Services

By Andrew J Thompson, Esq.

Is the following something you can relate to: you’ve been through a bitter divorce or paternity battle, all the while doing whatever you can to be the best parent you can be.  But the other parent, out of fear, anger, or for some other reason, has reported you to child protective services, and now they are investigating you as a parent.  What did you do?

In many cases, there are very good reasons for CPS’ involvement, to the point of terminating the rights of parents who leave children, without heat or food in their home, inadequate shelter from the elements, or outright physical or emotional abuse, e.g. harsh, physical punishment with extreme objects of force.

But that isn’t your situation.  Instead, you have found yourself on the wrong side of a custody battle, with a now-estranged judge, who is behaving punitively toward you, even though nothing, not even what is reported to CPS, fits the model of abuse or neglect in parenting.  So why are they investigating you?

I have seen many, many instances when a parent has been investigated by child services, and had some or all rights stripped from them, even though that parent is the one person who takes a child’s best interests to heart to the greatest extent possible.  How can this happen?

Consider the following, a single father, with no girlfriend, roommate, or significant other, has his children at home with him on alternating weekends.   His two year son goes back to his mother’s on Sunday evening with a small cut over his left eye.  The father tells the mother exactly what happened – the boys’ five year old sister came to the father and told him the boy was playing in

This is a very difficult situation. You need to be diligent and persistent about pursuing, restoring and protecting your rights.

You have recourse anywhere in the United States because the Constitution respects your rights as a parent above the authority of the state.  Don’t minimize the ultimate importance of this protection. Practically speaking, however, enforcing your rights can be very time consuming, expensive and difficult.  The state has a great deal of power and resources, and generally, once you’re in the CPS system, you are treated with suspicion.

You need to be patient, persistent and forthright in asserting your rights and your will as the parent – more interested in the care of your children than any agency can be.

Regardless of your sex, a good resource may be: http://www.familylawandfathers.com which addresses issues relating to parent’s rights in much detail.  Depending on your finances, it’s possible, though harder than ever, you may be entitled to pro bono representation via your local legal services organization, but the truth is you will receive limited service on a pro bono basis.  If you’re looking for sound, experienced representation, contact the team at the Thompson Law Office, by calling Andrew Thompson at (317) 604-1276, or by email at ajt@thompsonlaw-in.com.  We do offer sliding scale fee rates for individuals with limited resources as well – but don’t kid yourself!   You need to be prepared for a time consuming and expensive battle that comes down to the protection of your rights and of your children.

Hanging in there as a parent to your kids is so important! I wish you well.

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Charges of Child Molestation, Domestic Violence and Battery

If you are charged with a domestic crime, or threatened with such charges, you probably feel like your life has been turned on its head. It becomes vitally important to assess your situation properly, even following the shock of allegations you would never imagine would have made about you.

Whatever it takes, support from family friends, professional support, etc., you need to remain calm. In a way, the situation will force you to do just that – it is incredibly sobering. But the emotional shock alone can cause problems for you at work, at home and just in coping with basic day to day activities.

I’m an attorney, and not a psychiatrist. But I know that if you are struggling in basic life activities, your ability to make sound decisions and act wisely with respect to your legal troubles will also be impaired. Do whatever you can to have your mind in the right place, so your attorney will be able to provide the most help he can for you.

Then it becomes very important to find the right attorney for your needs. Part of remaining calm and processing the situation wisely, is to quickly understand that is not the time for bargain hunting. You do not want to find a lawyer who will take your case at the lowest fee or for the lowest retainer. In fact, you will probably hurt yourself severely if that is how you make your decision.

I would also suggest that it is not the most experience that is necessarily the right answer for you. Experience matters for sure, but it is the right kind of experience in the right places that will help you navigate these difficult times.

In terms of the kind of experience that matters most, a kind of empathethic experience is probably first. This doesn’t have to be someone who has been charged with the same offenses, but it is someone who has experienced a similar situation, either on his own, through a family member or close companion.

Very close in importance is the experience and relationship an attorney has with the judge and the courts where your case will be heard. It cannot guaranty a positive result, and if your case can go to a jury, the relationship with the judge is far less important, but it can make a difference in many ways.

Along with finding the right attorney, you need a cogent and effective strategy for handling your case. You and your attorney form a team – and a bond on that team. You need to be clear about your goal, and have a clear understanding that the goal is achievable and how you will get to that goal.

You will always be best served to be sure you have your whole case in order as you want it to go. This is an unbearably hard thing to face. Take it on with all of the vigor and sincere determination to do the right things that it demands.

Andrew J Thompson is an attorney practicing in Indianapolis, IN. He may reached via email at: ajt@thompsonlaw-in.com or by phone at (317) 269-3422.