CPS Parent Resource Guide Cover

CPS Parent Resource Guide Part 10: The Parent Attorney


The CPS process is quite confusing, and it can be very tough to navigate on your own. A lawyer can help with this process and explain things to you so that you can make the proper decisions for yourself and your family. This section mostly will deal with expections in regards to what a lawyer can and can’t do for you, as well as ways to help your lawyer in order to maximize the chances of success with your case.

How do I get a lawyer?

Obviously finding one on your own and retaining them is the first method of obtaining representation, but that often can be prohibitively expensive for many people. The advantages to this are the ability to find an attorney of your own choosing, rather than someone chosen for you, as well as the ability to obtain representation significantly earlier in the process. In my opinion, this is the most significant thing, as there are a huge number of cases where attorneys are hired WAY too late, in a position where various rights have already been waived, and the CPS train has already left the station.

The other avenue is to have an attorney appointed to you. However, this only applies in situations where CPS has filed legal action against you, as well as having to prove that you have a sufficiently low income to qualify. There is no mechanism of getting an attorney appointed to you in the investigations stage of a case.

What should I tell my lawyer?

For the most part, it is absolutely essential that you tell your attorney everything that might be relevant to your case. Lots of information can entirely change the legal strategy of the case, and information shared with your attorney is confidential. Your attorney is YOUR advocate, so it is important that they are operating from the same set of facts as you. It is also quite important to make sure your lawyer knows what your goals are so that they can properly advise you on how to work towards those goals. Be honest and realistic about that as well, as it serves no purpose to tell your lawyer that you want one thing when in fact you want a different thing. Ultimately, your lawyer takes direction from YOU, and if you want to go a certain direction, you should make sure to tell them that.

What should my lawyer do?

There are a lot of different things your lawyer does during a CPS case, a lot of which will depend on how far along the case is, and where the case is headed. There are a couple of very general areas that can somewhat encompass the rest though:

  1. Explain what is happening to you: This seems self explanatory, but this is probably the number one role of a lawyer in these cases is to make sure that YOU understand what is currently happening, what you need to be doing next, and what might happen in the future. If you don’t understand those things, it can create a lot of problems, and it is a two way street in terms of making sure that your lawyer proactively explains things, as well as making sure that you ask questions when you are confused.
  2. Represent you in court: This serves a lot of purposes, foremost of which is helping to protect you from yourself in terms of saying things that might hurt your case. Additionally, other professionals tend to interact differently when dealing with an opposing professional as opposed to a parent.
  3. Provide you with undivided loyalty, confidentiality, and competent representation: This is something that all lawyers are obligated to provide to their clients, but it is certainly important here as well. The competent representation part is the bulk of what your lawyer will do, and that is very fact specific to your individual case.

How can I help my lawyer?

The main thing that you have and your lawyer lacks to start a case is facts. They may know the law, but they don’t know much at all about your life, your family, and the situation if you don’t give them that information.

  1. Stay in contact: Make sure that your lawyer knows how to contact you at every point in time (preferably with a backup in case of something happening). If something goes on with the legal case and your lawyer can’t get in touch with you, bad things can happen. Also, don’t assume that your lawyer knows something just because you do. Often information is shared poorly, and making sure new pieces of information are sent to your lawyer in a timely manner is vital.
  2. Potential witnesses: If there are people who have information about the allegations CPS is making, your lawyer needs to know their information. Also, people who can speak to your parenting skills, especially neutral professionals, can make great witnesses. Those people’s contact information should be provided to your attorney as soon as possible so that they can talk with them and potentially call them as witnesses if needed.
  3. Be honest: If you swear to everyone that you have never used illegal drugs, including your attorney, and he asks for a drug test to prove that based on your information, and it comes up postiive because you didn’t want to be honest with your lawyer, that can significantly harm your case as well as your credibility with the court.
  4. Align your goals: Make sure you clearly articulate what you want to your lawyer, and ask what you need to do to works towards that. As a side note, if your lawyer tells you a series of steps that are necessary to reaching your goal, you should probably take that somewhat seriously.

What if I don’t get along with my lawyer?

If you have hired them directly, you can simply fire them and find a new attorney. If you have been appointed one by the court, it is up to the judge’s discretion, but in my experience they often will allow at least one request for a new attorney, and you should coordinate that with your current attorney as soon as possible, rather than doing so at a court hearing. In general, many of these situations can be resolved by better communication. If your attorney is communicating with you, explaining things properly, but you simply don’t like the outcomes, there may not be anything that can be done. However, if you are being ignored by your attorney, or there are more serious issues going on, it is important to try to deal with that as early as possible in the case as you can. Jumping into a case right before a deadline can be tough, even for the best lawyers, so the more time you give them to get up to speed the better.

Texas CPS Parent Resource Guide Part 10 – The Parent Attorney

 

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at attorney@okohlaw.us

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