WAVE Family Law Fridays on 07/01/2022 featuring Attorney John Schmidt and John Ramsey discuss Child Protective Services (CPS) cases for child dependency, child neglect, and child abuse.
JOHN RAMSEY: It is Family Law Friday and there are positive outcomes. When you think about child neglect, child abuse, a lot of times it's something that's -- it's a tough topic to talk about. But as I said, there are positive outcomes thanks to the gentleman to my left. And that is attorney John Schmidt. John, welcome back to the show.
JOHN SCHMIDT: Thanks, John.
JOHN RAMSEY: You are truly a nice guy. Okay. I'm going to tell you guys this real quickly. So he comes on, he's always dressed really great. I said, "Man, I'd like to get in your closet." I said, "Man, I love the way you dress." And he said, "Come on, man. You can have whatever you want." And you meant it.
JOHN SCHMIDT: I meant it.
JOHN RAMSEY: I was trying to kid around, but you're a nice guy. Let's talk about the topic at hand. Now this is going to be a little bit tough because when you mention Child Protective Services and you talk about child abuse, neglect, dependency, these are tough topics. Everyone is worried about the innocence and the outcomes of these kinds of cases because children are involved. So let's talk about this. First of all, for you, as a family lawyer, how much of your business does this involve children? Quite a bit, probably with the --
JOHN SCHMIDT: With children it's almost entirely involved in my business. The criminal component, not so much because I'm selective about the cases I take on criminal and so I don't always engage in ones that involve children. But if it's defending children, I frequently will take those cases. So --
JOHN RAMSEY: So dependency, neglect, and abuse cases. What exactly are they? Because I -- I think everyone knows when, you know, Family Court, and it's -- it is -- a lot of it is about the welfare of children.
JOHN SCHMIDT: Right.
JOHN RAMSEY: But what kind of cases are we talking about here?
JOHN SCHMIDT: So schools will sometimes bring truancy cases, right? So ed neglect, which is educational neglect. And so you'll get a petition sometimes on that. And then you'll get the other things that people commonly think about, right? So the corporal punishment that goes too far. Sometimes kids being at risk of harm because drugs are in the home or a parent has been pulled over driving intoxicated under some substance with kid in the car or children in the car. Or children out wandering around unsupervised and parents can't be found, located, that kind of stuff. And when they are, they're not doing what they need to do to protect the children. So there's a wide variety of fact patterns, but the guardian ad litem is the person who represents the children and then you have parent's attorneys. And I do both, but frequently, the Court will ask me to represent one of the parents in these cases. And they are difficult. And the ones that are most difficult are the ones where the parents are involved with methamphetamines. Drugs in general are tough, but methamphetamines are particularly difficult for the parents to overcome. It's a real struggle for them.
JOHN RAMSEY: See, I'm -- I'm curious about the parameters of Family Court. So if you have a parent who does have an -- an addiction problem, it doesn't mean they don't love their kids. So what -- can the Family Court recommend some kind of treatment -- recovery, treatment or how -- how does -- how does that work? Or is that a different court?
JOHN SCHMIDT: No, no, that's a perfect question. So these cases with CPS are intended to bring services to the family, to get the family back together, and return the kids to a safe environment. And so the Courts and the other participants involved, you have CASA workers, you'll have social workers of course, lawyers. You'll have the Foster Care Review Board members. Lot of people from the community involved, all dedicated to try to help the parents have services and complete services so the children could be returned safely to the home. Because Commonwealth of Kentucky doesn't want to have to care for children anymore then they have to and the numbers have been increasing. So --
JOHN RAMSEY: You want -- you want healthy, constructive outcomes. You want -- you -- that's -- that's the goal here.
JOHN SCHMIDT: It is.
JOHN RAMSEY: Give me a good story because I think a lot of us here, you know, if they hit the news here on WAVE 3, then there's usually a major issue.
JOHN SCHMIDT: Sure.
JOHN RAMSEY: So tell me about you. You are a fan of the Family Court. You're a fan of the judges.
JOHN SCHMIDT: I am.
JOHN RAMSEY: Yeah. And I know -- and I think that's great. I want to hear why. What -- tell me about some positive outcomes, John.
JOHN SCHMIDT: Yeah, so, you know, had a family where, you know, the parent did everything they could do and, you know, but there were just circumstances that were so difficult to manage, and the Courts are able to sometimes bring services to bear that really support that parent and help that parent put things in place or learn skills where they can then be a better parent. Because at the end of the day, we want these kids to grow happy and healthy and have a productive life and it's very traumatic for children to be removed from their parents. It's a -- really is a traumatic event for them that affects them for a long, long time. So everybody's trying to do it. So we frequently get kids returned to their parents. We really do. And a lot of times we can work with our clients to help them through the process, encourage them. I had some ladies that worked for me at one point in time, one of them was a devout Christian, loved her, and she just simply retired, but, you know, she would offer to pray with our clients and she always had good and positive things, words of encouragement for them. Patty currently does the same thing. She's very encouraging, very supportive. And we do everything we can to try to help make the Court aware of their progress, make everybody aware of their progress, and encourage them through that, and work with people. Because everybody gets busy, so encourage them and work with them to get the services they need, make sure they know where to go, what to do. And when they turn in stuff, try to encourage them along the way because sometimes it, you know, it's a marathon, it's not a sprint, and so encouragement's important, I think.
JOHN RAMSEY: There we go.
JOHN SCHMIDT: And so we really do try to do that with our clients and try to help them through that. And I think in general the whole system works pretty well. It's strained. I mean, CPS, Child Protective Services, needs more funding. They are understaffed. They really are. The cabinet needs more funding. They were combined with Health Services, so the cabinet for Family and Health Services is what we have, and so the cabinet for families was combined with cabinet for Health Services and it was made such a large thing, impossible to manage, and we're kind of running into that now where it has its inherent problems because it's too big. So --
JOHN RAMSEY: Right. I love hearing your optimism. You're obviously optimistic because you've seen positive outcomes and I love the fact that you believe in the Family Court and the way it works. That makes me feel better moving forward and when I hear about some of these child cases because I can think things can work out. They really can. So before we let you go here, it is family -- it's family law variety. Tell them about the other services you offer. We -- we've had custody cases on the show, divorce cases. Tell them about what you do.
JOHN SCHMIDT: That's correct. So you know, we'll do custody cases, contested or uncontested custody, divorce, contested or uncontested divorce, adoptions, again, contested, or uncontested adoptions, CPS cases, which is dependency, neglect, and abuse cases. And then criminal representation as well as personal injury.
JOHN RAMSEY: All right, John Schmidt, there it is, the Law Offices of John Schmidt & Associates. There is John Schmidt, a man with compassion and a long resume of success. All right, we'll take a little break here, and then coming up Dawne Gee will join me, we'll talk about what's happening at 2:00. WAVE Country with Dawne Gee. Welcome to the weekend. It's a holiday weekend.
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