No parent ever plans on being investigated by Child Protective Services for possible child abuse or neglect.
But as shown by the recently reported CPS investigation of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, you never know when social workers will come knocking on your door. The CPS probe was reportedly launched after an anonymous tip: Apparently, someone didn't like seeing a photo of 13-year-old Willow Smith in bed with a shirtless 20-year-old actor that was posted on (and quickly removed from) social media.
If you're the subject of a CPS investigation, do you need to hire a lawyer? Here are three reasons why "lawyering up" may pay off for you:
1. Everything You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You.
If you are being falsely accused of child abuse, it's easy to become angry and to lash out at investigators and social workers. However, any interference with CPS workers, or angry words said in the heat of the moment, will only make your situation worse. A lawyer will help you know what to say, when to say it, and perhaps more importantly, what not to say and when not to say anything at all.
2. A Lawyer Knows the Law and How to Deal With Your Local Court System.
If an investigation of an alleged child abuse case leads to an intervention or removal, an experienced family law attorney will know not only the procedures that your county's CPS agency must follow, but also the best way to seek the return of your child.
Perhaps police and social workers were somehow overzealous and violated your constitutional rights, or fell short in their investigation. Or perhaps CPS intervention made your child's situation even worse -- for example, by placing your child in an inappropriate foster home. A lawyer will know what to do in these situations.
A local attorney will also know your local court system inside and out, and will have a good idea of what to expect from specific judges.
3. You Need Someone on Your Side, Fighting for You.
Allegations of child abuse may lead your friends and family to question or hesitate to support you. A family law attorney will be a reliable source for not just legal information, but also the peace of mind provided by knowing that someone is fighting for you and looking out for your best interests. Your lawyer will also be able to deal with CPS investigators, law-enforcement officers, and other attorneys so you don't have to.
CPS investigations can be grueling, invasive and potentially life-changing. If you or your family are being investigated by CPS and need advice or assistance in preventing an intervention or removal, contact an experienced family law attorney today.