Assisting your lawyer during a Child Protective Services case

When you hire an attorney to represent you in a case involving Child Protective Services (CPS), you place a lot of trust in that person to represent your interests competently and effectively. You are likely paying that person some money to do so, as well. These conditions lead many to believe that it is the lawyer’s responsibility to do all of the work associated with the case. You, as the client, should only have to show up to a hearing, speak when spoken to, and then go back to your attorney after the hearing to make sure you understood what the judge said on a particular subject.

This could not be further from the truth. As a practicing family law attorney, I can tell you that the clients who achieve the most favorable results typically take an active and involved role in their cases. That’s not to say that you as a client have to do all of the work- not at all. However, expecting your attorney to do all the work while you only have to worry about the case’s outcome is not intelligent and not practical.

Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, will detail steps you can take as a client to assist your attorney in representing you during a CPS case. While your relationship with your attorney will differ and be unique compared to any other attorney-client relationship, there are specific steps that I believe every client can take with every attorney to help achieve goals and favorable outcomes.

Help your attorney by communicating well with her.

You may have 1,000 things going on in your life besides your CPS case. Phone numbers change. You may move addresses. Likewise, your attorney has other clients besides yourself. With all of these factors being in play, your attorney will do her best to keep in contact with you, and you should do the same. Make an effort to call or email your attorney at least every week to make sure you know what is going on with your case.

If your contact information has changed, make sure to notify your attorney of this change as soon as you are able. I can’t tell you how frustrating it can be to have a significant hearing coming up in a client’s case, and I’ve been unable to contact the client to tell them. Our office usually has contact information for family and friends who we can talk to you and speaking to these people can help learn the new phone number for the client. However, it is much better to avoid this problem altogether by thinking ahead and communicating with your attorney early and often in your case.

Help your attorney by staying involved with your case.

Do not take a passive role in your case. Meaning- do not expect your attorney to make an effort to contact you and keep up with you and what has been going on at all times. She is responsible for knowing your case, communicating with you, and using the information learned to represent you competently. However, if you attend a counseling session and have been released from further treatment, this is information you need to communicate to your attorney. That may need to be communicated to the CPS attorney to begin final negotiations regarding your child’s return to your home.

Any documentation you receive from CPS, a counselor or other person associated with your case should be provided to your attorney. Make copies of documents and drop them off at your attorney’s office. You can arrange a meeting, either on the phone or in person, with your attorney to meet to discuss these updates when you both have available.

In the days before that sort of meeting, think about what you want to discuss with your lawyer. It is possible that your attorney has not thought about your particular situation as thoroughly as you have. I can almost guarantee that you are more about your case than your attorney. This doesn’t mean that an attorney isn’t worth hiring. Instead- this is the simple reality that your case affects your life in a way that your lawyer cannot duplicate in their mind.

By planning and setting an agenda for your meetings with your attorney, you can pinpoint the most critical issues and bypass a lot of the time that can be wasted trying to figure out what to talk about. If you have problems associated with therapy providers or CPS, you will need to communicate that to your attorney.

Help your attorney by being transparent with her.

To be clear is to be unkind, my granddad always told me. If you have a well-thought-out, reasonable expectation or goal associated with your case, then share that expectation/goal with your attorney in no uncertain terms. By sharing with your attorney precisely what you want to achieve in your case, you allow her to problem solve the situation and help achieve those goals- or get as close to achieving those goals as possible.

I always commend clients on being transparent with me about problems he or they may have with how I communicate or explain issues. Not every person in the world understands situations the same way that I do or that you do. Your attorney may have a different way than you do in analyzing a situation. It would help if you made clear to your attorney that you may need an additional explanation of an issue or problem for it to make sense to you. When issues make sense, you can give your perspective and openly advocate for yourself. Attorneys want to represent these sorts of clients.

Help your attorney by being realistic in what can be accomplished in your CPS case.

CPS cases are tough. Your life has been turned upside down, your child has possibly been removed from your home, and you are left on the outside looking in. You don’t know when the investigation will conclude and have less of an idea of when (or if) your child will be allowed to return to your home. You have every right to feel overburdened, angry, and frustrated by your case.

With that