Dougherty & Associates is one of the only law firms in Sacramento with many years of experience in high-quality representation in both family law and CPS cases (child abuse cases or "juvenile dependency" cases). If your child was removed from your custody by CPS, you need an attorney immediately because a critical hearing will occur within a few days of this removal. If you are a parent or guardian of the removed child, you are entitled to a court-appointed attorney if you cannot afford an attorney. However, court-appointed attorneys carry many hundreds of cases at a time and are in court most of every work hour of every week. The range of experience and ability varies widely. These court-appointed attorneys generally know the law in this area, but they just don't have much time to research a case, gather evidence or speak with their clients. If you can afford a private attorney, we can help.
CPS social workers do much of the actual case management work for the court. They do not actually have any legal authority to give orders, but are often very "forceful" in their recommendations. They are also over-worked with huge caseloads. They are frequently very hard to contact. Often, grandparents, relatives, friends or foster parents who could help care for children feel left out of the process or can get very little information. Our office can help get information for someone who is not a parent or guardian, help get placement of a child with a relative or friend or, if adoption becomes the permanent plan, help get an adoption arranged with family, a friend or foster parent(s) rather than a stranger.
Top Ten CPS Case Tips
1. The process in CPS court ("juvenile dependency") is rapid and structured. It involves the initial or detention hearing, jurisdiction hearing (trial), disposition hearing, reunification services with review hearings and (hopefully) reunification.
2. The first hearing (detention or initial hearing) is extremely important. Seek consultation as soon as possible, preferably when you first have contact with CPS and before court hearings.
3. Don't try to explain what you don't know; don't guess. If your child was injured and you don't know why, just say you don't know and don't speculate, reason it out or guess to the police or CPS worker.
4. Record every conversation with a CPS social worker but inform him/her that you are doing so. If the worker won't talk to you if you are recording it, don't talk.
5. If you truly have a substance abuse problem, get serious, meaningful help immediately. Litigating will not solve the problem. However, before the court orders drug testing, do not submit to drug testing unless you are certain you will test "clean" of all drugs and alcohol.
6. Social workers can be very helpful. Don't treat them as your enemy or your friend, but treat them in a friendly and polite manner. However, don't discuss your case with them, even if they are friendly, before getting legal representation.
7. "Shaken Baby Syndrome" is a myth but one widely believed by social workers, most pediatricians and most radiologists. If that is the allegation, you need expert legal and medical advice. Never discuss your case with the police or CPS in these cases without legal representation.
8. If you cannot afford a private attorney, be very proactive in getting positive information to your attorney and, with legal guidance, to the CPS social worker. Bring a list of questions for your attorney at the first meeting.
9. If you want the child to be placed with you or are willing to adopt an abused child, tell the social worker and the court (in writing — not by phone message) early, often and persistently of your interest. Focus on helping the child. If you defend the parent (guilty or innocent) you will be likely eliminated for placement as unwilling to protect the child. If you highly criticize the parent, you will be likely eliminated as interfering with reunification.
10. Each stage of the court proceedings is critical. If you are not being well represented, seek better help immediately. Sometimes there is nothing even a good attorney can do to help if it is too late.
Dougherty & Associates is a family law firm based in Sacramento, California. We serve clients throughout all of northern California, and routinely practice in Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado, Yolo and San Joaquin Counties.
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Please call the Law Offices of Dougherty & Associates at (916) 877-9353 for legal advice as it relates to your specific case.
Dougherty & Associates
650 University Ave., Suite 100 Sacramento,