DO YOU WANT YOUR CHILDREN TAKEN AWAY BY CHILD PROTECTION SERVICES? ENGAGE IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Domestic violence is not good for anyone in the family. It can lead to deaths or serious injuries, both physical and emotional. It is certainly not the right message you want your children learning as they grow up.
If the police are called usually one of the parents will be arrested and put in jail. Be ready to start spending a lot of money for bail, attorneys, court fines, alternative living arrangements, potential loss of your job, criminal prosecution, restraining orders and the potential end of your marriage.
When the police respond to a domestic violence call and there are minor children living at home at the time, a referral to Child Protection Services (CPS) will be made. Child Protection Services will investigate if a referral is made to them. They are mandated to do a risk assessment of the family. They will want to talk to the parents, view the family home, and talk to the minor children they are able to interview. It will do you no good to tell them to get a search warrant or to tell them you have nothing to say. CPS can request from the court a warrant to take your children into custody. They can demand your cooperation by holding your children from you. They will want to know each parent’s version of the facts of the incident for which the police were called and will want to know of any prior domestic violence incidents. Inquiry will be made to determine what issues are contributing to the domestic violence in the family.
Depending on the seriousness of the incident for which the police were called, CPS may offer voluntary services for the family. A voluntary plan usually lasts six months. It can be extended for another six months. A voluntary plan usually will require one parent to obtain a civil or criminal restraining order for a kick-out from the family home for the other parent, a no-contact order, and supervised visits with the children. CPS will require domestic violence classes, possibly anger management, and individual counseling. Supervised visitation with the minor children may be required and the other parent will not be allowed to do the supervising.
DO NOT VIOLATE THE VOLUNTARY PLAN
Voluntary plans are preferred rather than having to go to court. CPS discourages parents from consulting with attorneys regarding these plans. The social workers sometimes refuse to talk to an attorney if called concerning the proposed plan. We strongly recommend parents consult with a knowledgeable attorney handling these kinds of cases as to the proposed plan, what is expected of the parents, and what may occur if the parents violate the voluntary plan by unauthorized contact or re-entry to the home before CPS approves of the absent parent returning home. Violating the voluntary plan can be much more detrimental to your reunification efforts for your family and will lead to removal of your children from the parent with whom they have been left.
If CPS or the parents choose to go to court, the Juvenile Court/Family Court where these kinds of cases are heard will hold proceedings. The parents are each entitled to retain or have assigned lawyers. The minor(s) will be appointed a lawyer. The wished-for end result of a court proceeding will be family reunification. The same kinds of services CPS would offer through a voluntary plan will normally be ordered through the Juvenile Court. If the parents do not do their ordered services, the court can terminate their reunification services and then terminate their parental rights. If one parent does the services and the other parent does not, the Juvenile Court can issue exit orders giving the parent who has done their services full custody of the minors with or without visitation for the other parent.
TOO MANY OF THESE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES END UP WITH TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS AND THE CHILDREN PLACED FOR ADOPTION
Many of the parents in the normal domestic violence cases view CPS’s involvement and the requirements for reunification to be heavy handed and not necessary. The parents make up and feel that government intrusion into their family life is not necessary because they feel there are no longer risk factors. This would be a huge mistake. We get calls from parents requesting our services because CPS is recommending termination of their parental rights because they failed to follow through with their Voluntary Plan or their court-ordered requirements. Quite often the calls are too late and there is nothing we can do at that stage of the case. Don’t take these issues lightly. They are very serious business and the orders of the court or the agreements made in the Voluntary Plan need to be followed.