How to Interact with Child Protective Services
Child custody can be a complicated, emotionally difficult topic for parents. In an effort to gain full custody of their children, some parents make false accusations that their former partners are abusing their children. In other cases, parents, teachers, and other mandated reporters genuinely believe that children are being abused and make reports to the Florida Department of Children and Families to protect the children.
When you are being investigated by the Department of Child Welfare, it can be easy to be angry or scared. Use the following guidelines to interact with the department in a way that is productive for you and your child.
Report Everything to your Lawyer
Keep your lawyer in the loop about your investigation. If you have questions about the process or what to expect, ask your lawyer. He or she is best equipped to help you when he or she has all the relevant information about your case, such as the date and time of each department representative visit and the questions you were asked during each.
Respect The Department of Child Welfare’ Choices
It can be heartbreaking for your child to be removed from your home, but always keep in mind that the Department of Child Welfare takes actions to protect children, not to punish parents. Removing children from homes is typically a last resort. Do not become argumentative or otherwise combative with the department when this occurs. Doing so will only hurt your case.
Have Necessary Contact Information Readily Available
If you know there is a chance your children will be removed from your home, be prepared for this by having a list of people who are qualified and willing to take your children readily available.
Be Prepared to be your Own Advocate
The Department of Child Welfare’s job is to advocate for children. Although your role as a parent is usually to be your child’s advocate, when the department is involved in your case, you need to advocate for yourself. Although you should respect its decisions and comply with its requirements, you should also stand up for yourself, your rights, and the truth.
You do not have to let a department representative into your home unless they have a valid warrant from a judge. You also do not have to interact with him or her beyond acknowledgment. You do have the right to know why you are being investigated.
If your investigation reaches the point where you have to go to court to defend your case against child abuse allegations, being your own advocate means providing sufficient evidence to support your position. For example, testimonies from your child’s teachers discussing your involvement in his or her life can be used to fight an allegation of neglect, and copies of your child’s medical records can be used to show that you are providing appropriate medical care.
Work with an Experienced Orlando Child Custody Lawyer
When you are facing a CPS investigation, your lawyer is your best advocate. To get started with an experienced Orlando child custody lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A. today to set up your legal consultation.