In the United States, parents have a constitutional right to raise their children as they wish. However, the government can intervene in cases of abuse or neglect. The Department of Child Services (DCS) may bring a “Child in Need of Services” (CHINS) action against families. It’s essential to know your rights and have an experienced Hamilton County lawyer to help you navigate through the CPS / DCS initial investigation and subsequent CHINS matter.
What is CHINS?
In Indiana, CHINS is defined as a child who experiences one of 11 statutory conditions, requiring the coercive intervention of the court to reunify and / or remedy the situation.
The following cases may constitute a CHINS action:
• Sexual abuse/human trafficking
• The child is permitted to participate in an obscene performance
• The child is permitted to commit an unlawful sex offense
• The child endangers his or her own health or the health of others
• The child fails to participate in a school disciplinary hearing
• Missing child
• The child is disabled and deprived of medical intervention or nutrition
• Fetal alcohol syndrome
• The child has an injury or abnormal development due to the mother’s use of alcohol or substances during pregnancy
To constitute a CHINS case, CPS / DCS must conduct an initial investigation, find a determination on the allegations (by a substantiation or unsubstantiation), and file a verified petition to open a CHINS matter with the Court.
What are Parents’ Rights in a CHINS Action?
Parents have rights if the state serves a CHINS notice or removes the child from their home, including:
• Right to have a detention hearing in court within 48 hours of the action and request the child’s return
• Right to be represented by a Westfield lawyer
• Right to cross-examine witnesses and present evidence
• Right to not make incriminating statements
• Right to request to have the case reviewed by a child protection team
• Right to be advised that a Petition to Terminate Custody can be filed if the child has been removed from the parents’ home and supervised by DCS for 15 of the past 22 months and not progress has been made toward remedy and reunification
If you’re facing a CHINS/DCS action, it’s time to hire an experienced attorney. Contact our team of professionals here.