A child protective services (CPS) worker knocks on the door of your client, a 36-year-old mother involved in a contentious child custody case. The worker reveals only that she received an anonymous phone call alleging that your client physically abused her son and now she must investigate those allegations under state law. The worker demands to enter the house, interview the children, and inspect the premises. She threatens that a lack of cooperation may result in the filing of a court petition and the possible removal of the child. Your panicked client calls with a plethora of questions: Can CPS do this? Why can't I find out who is making these allegations against me? Can CPS really remove my child from the home? What are my rights? The questions continue. Am I entitled to a court-appointed attorney? Will I get to visit my child if he's placed in foster care? Can he go live with my mother? A traumatic situation, indeed. Your client will undoubtedly look to you for guidance to resolve these issues. As a practicing domestic relations attorney, you feel helpless. Your knowledge of civil child protection cases is limited and extends only to the occasional story that appears in the media. Although you do not represent this mother in the child abuse and neglect matter, you'd like to provide her with some helpful information to resolve the situation favorably. Answering your client's basic questions about the system may put her at ease and give her a sense that she has some control over the outcome. Additionally, the results of the CPS investigation could significantly affect the outcome in your child custody case.
Sankaran, Vivek. "When Child Protective Services Comes Knocking." Fam. Advoc. 31, no. 3 (2009): 8-10.
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