Can You Get a CPS Case Closed Fast?
If Child Protective Services (CPS) is investigating you, it is because someone made a complaint saying your child is being neglected or abused.
CPS Is Legally Required to Investigate Complaints
CPS is legally required to investigate all child abuse allegations it receives, regardless of whether or not they have merit or are false allegations. These investigations may vary from a simple conversation to a full investigation.
The officer will likely contact you within 72 hours of getting the complaint.
What Constitutes Abuse or Neglect
State laws define what constitutes abuse or neglect. Generally speaking, any physical, mental, or sexual abuse during the child's life will be subject to an investigation by CPS. Some states also include, in their definition of abuse, acts that threaten the child with harm or create a substantial risk of harm to the child's health.
Neglect, on the other hand, is usually defined as the failure of a parent or guardian to provide proper child care. This may include:
- Failing to provide food, shelter, or medical care for the child
- Not finding someone (such as daycare or relatives) to watch your young child when you are unavailable to care for them
- Not putting your child in school (half the states and DC have this rule)
- Not giving the required additional treatment for children with special needs
What Happens During a CPS Investigation?
A CPS caseworker may take different steps after receiving a complaint. They may start by a home visit to speak to the child, the parents, foster parents, or family members of the child. The CPS worker may also physically examine the child for any evidence of abuse.
Another thing the caseworker may do is look into the mental health, medical records, and criminal charges of the child and the alleged abusers. This will help the caseworker see if there is a history of substance abuse.
After the investigation, the caseworker will determine whether there is enough evidence to conclude the child was neglected or abused, and CPS needs to intervene to ensure the child's well-being.
If there is evidence of neglect, CPS may assign a social worker who will work with you to develop a safety plan to ensure the child's safety. This may include:
- Taking parenting classes
- Taking drug tests and getting help with any drug-related problems
But if the child is in immediate danger or if you don't cooperate, the child protection worker may speak to the county attorney and have a petition filed in court. The petition may ask the court for:
- Temporary custody of the child
- Placement of the child in foster care
- An order requiring the parent to participate in the safety plan
How Long Does a CPS Case Last?
Although it depends on the particulars of the case, CPS usually has about 45 days to complete an investigation. If an investigation takes longer than this time, CPS has to notify the parents with reasons for its delay.
How Do I Know If My CPS Case Is Closed?
In most cases, you will get a letter from CPS notifying you the case is closed. They usually send this letter within 90 days after the investigation. You can also follow up with CPS to see if your case is closed. Make sure to record your correspondence with CPS.
Getting Access to CPS Records
In most cases, you will have access to CPS records except for the person who made the allegations against you. Look into your state laws to learn the specifics on how you can request access to CPS records and the court case.
How to Get a CPS Case Closed
You don't have a legal obligation to cooperate with CPS unless they bring a court order. But if you want the case to be closed sooner than later, its best to work with CPS agents. This includes:
- Providing documents
- Letting CPS into your home for inspection
- Answering questions
If you want to get the CPS case closed, its best to do all you can before the case goes to a juvenile court.
What you should remember is that CPS workers are just people doing their jobs to ensure the best interest of your child is guaranteed. This means they don't want the child to be separated from their parents unless it's absolutely necessary.
How About When the Court Gets Involved?
If the caseworker believes the child is in immediate danger because of emotional or physical abuse, they may work with the city's attorney and file a petition. The judge will look at the petition and decide whether the child should be removed from the home or not.
You can take the case to trial if you disagree with the judge's decision. At the court hearing, the judge can decide to do one or more of the following:
- Order the parent to cooperate on the case plan with social services
- Order the alleged abuser to leave the home
- Order the child to be removed and placed with a foster family or another relative
- Appoint a guardian
- Order the parent to pay child support
- Dismiss the petition
State laws determine how the trial is conducted and when the trial should take place. In most cases, however, the judge must find clear and convincing evidence before the termination of parental rights.
Can a CPS Case Be Dismissed?
The judge can dismiss a CPS case if it determines CPS has not provided enough evidence to substantiate the allegations. In such cases, CPS can't continue its investigation unless the family gives their consent.
How Do You Fight a CPS Case?
If you believe CPS is wrongfully accusing you of child abuse, there are ways you can fight it. The first thing you can do is research the laws of your state so that you better understand the situation and how you can protect yourself.
If your case is complicated or if the case goes to court, however, its best to consult an experienced attorney to ensure the best outcome for your case.
- What Happens When CPS Is Called?
- Top 5 Legal Questions About CPS Investigations
- False Allegations of Child Abuse
An Attorney Can Help You With Your CPS Case
CPS Investigations can be very stressful and they can leave you concerned about your family's future. Although you are not required by law to retain an attorney, it may be within your best interest to hire one as your child's future may depend on it. Speak to a family law attorney near you to get answers and legal advice.