The Involvement of Child Protective Services (CPS) in Grand Rapids Divorce and Custody Cases

Posted on 9/29/2016 by Robert Relph in Child Custody CPS
The Involvement of Child Protective Services (CPS) in Grand Rapids Divorce and Custody Cases

Children’s Protective Services in Michigan is charged with investigating and evaluating potential neglect or abuse of minor children. Unfortunately, claims of neglect or abuse arise all too frequently in Grand Rapids contested divorce and custody cases. The claims range from valid and verifiable claims of neglect or abuse to false claims intended to give the reporting party a potential advantage in the divorce or custody case.

Since situations involving potential neglect or abuse have a wide range of seriousness and consequences, it is critical for a parent to discuss potential claims of neglect or abuse with their attorney at the earliest opportunity. It should be obvious that preparation to make or defend a claim involving the other parent is important, particularly in evaluating the strength of the claim. Since claims are too often made in divorce and custody cases without proper foundation, consultation with one’s counsel is essential in making a determination about reporting or defending a claim.

From the standpoint of discussing a potential claim with a parent who wishes to report the other parent, the attorney should be very careful to counsel the client about the strength of the claim, particularly the proof which will be needed to substantiate the claim. The reason such consultation is essential is that a false claim of abuse or neglect against the opposite party will weigh heavily against the reporter in the divorce or custody case. The reporter could even by guilty of a crime for false reporting. No attorney should advise a client in a routine manner to report a potential claim without thorough analysis before that claim is made.

Open, honest and early discussion with one’s counsel about the possibility of a claim being made against the client is equally essential. The client and the attorney should be discussing how the client can protect themselves from a claim with defensive actions or evidence that the parent is not acting inappropriately with a minor child. There are too many avenues of defense to discuss in this blog, but experienced counsel will know how to handle potential claims.

One of the key questions when a claim is made against that parent, and the parent has been contacted by Children’s Protective Services for an interview is whether the parent should cooperate. In the vast majority of cases, there is virtually no choice if the client wants their side to be heard by the protective services worker. The attorney and the client should prepare for such a meeting to present openly and honestly the parent’s viewpoint about the potential claim. There are occasions where the seriousness of the claim will require a discussion between the attorney and the client about whether the client should allow themselves to be interviewed by the protective services worker. These situations involve the potential for criminal charges being filed against the client, usually where there is evidence that a child has been injured deliberately by a parent. A decision about whether to be interviewed in any particular situation is beyond the scope of this blog, but obviously needs a thorough evaluation between the attorney and the client prior to the interview with the protective services worker. While the client has a fifth amendment right to remain silent, that right needs to be carefully employed, because employing that right means the client’s version of what happened with the minor child will not become part of the Children’s Protective Services record and report, and could result in a negative recommendation regarding the parent and child relationship from the protective services worker.

From entire blog it should be clear that employing an experienced and well qualified divorce or custody specialist is essential, and becomes critical when and if there is a potential for Children’s Protective Services to become involved.