What is the process once CPS (CHFS) files a petition against me for dependency, neglect, or abuse?

What is the process once CPS (Child Protective Services) files a petition against me for dependency, neglect, or abuse? In Kentucky, the Court will appoint a family law lawyer to represent the petitioned party / parties, so you will receive a letter, message, or phone call from the lawyer telling you that s/he has been appointed to represent you. If you do not receive a letter, message, or phone call, then show up for Court on the date and time provided by your Social Worker (SSW) and your attorney will find you.

1st Step in the Process

Typically, the 1st step in the process is the Temporary Removal Hearing or TRH but the Court may set a Pre-Trial Conference if one or more parties have not been properly served. At the Temporary Removal Hearing, the question is "whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the child would be dependent, neglected or abused if returned to . . . the custody of his parent." These reasonable grounds may be based upon the evidence presented at the hearing. The standard of proof is low and the question to be considered is whether you want the judge to hear the allegations multiple times or whether you want to quickly get to the next step in the process and the question that bothers most petitioned parties; namely, whether the petitioned party did what is alleged?

2nd Step in the Process

The next step in the process is an adjudication hearing. An adjudication hearing is similar to a trial without a jury. At this hearing the court determines whether allegations of dependency, abuse or neglect concerning a child are true and sustained by the evidence presented by the county attorney and social worker on behalf of the cabinet. The Commonwealth will be required to prove the contents of the Petition. You may choose to Stipulate this hearing. If you choose to Stipulate you agree to waive a formal adjudication hearing or trial contesting the facts. This will result in the case moving forward without the need for formal testimony for consideration by the Court. The judge will choose to enter a finding after reviewing the Petition. This choice will stop the Court from hearing previous behaviors or charges. You will be asked prior to this court date if you would like to Stipulate the hearing.

3rd Step in the Process

A disposition hearing is to be completed within forty-five (45) days of the removal of the child. Decisions at the dispositional hearing help the Cabinet, the social worker and the parents develop an appropriate case plan to address the specific problems identified during adjudication. In determining the disposition of all cases brought on behalf of abused, neglected or dependent children, the court considers the child’s best interests when selecting between dispositional alternatives. Reunification is typically the goal.

Additional Steps in the Process

After disposition, the Court will setup reviews on at a time so there is Court overview of the progress. Returning to normal is a process that we are skilled at helping clients navigate as efficiently as possible so things get back to normal sooner rather than later. 

Contact Us Today

To make the negotiation process smoother, and to ensure that all of your paperwork is handled correctly, we invite you to schedule an appointment with the Law Offices of Schmidt & Associates. We will be more than happy to guide you and your ex through your custody negotiations and to help you keep the conversation productive. And, if it comes down to arguing your case in court, we will be more than prepared to advocate for you and your children.


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