To find that a child is a CHINS at a fact-finding hearing (trial), DCS must prove three elements: (1) the parent’s actions or inactions have seriously endangered the child; (2) that the child’s needs are unmet; and (3) that those needs are unlikely to be met without State coercion. It is the third of these elements that the Supreme Court has found to be the most important. The purpose of a CHINS proceeding is to protect the child, not punish the parent. Therefore, at the time of the hearing, courts tend to focus on what steps parents have taken to better a situation, along with compliance with CHINS’ services. This blog looks at three actions you may want to consider, with your counsel, that may help your CHINS case in the eyes of the court.
Psychological Evaluation. Mental health is a big problem in today’s society. It affects many people, not just those experiencing the issues. Therefore, courts often want to know about the mental health of all parties involved in CHINS proceedings, from the parents to the child. DCS may want to obtain a psychological evaluation at some point. Taking steps to proactively get one done on your own can not only speed up the process, but also demonstrate to the court your willingness to take steps to get your child out of the CHINS process faster. Furthermore, a private psychological evaluation that you arrange on your own, can be done in a more comfortable setting, relieving some of the pressure of the situation and allowing a more informative evaluation.
Therapy. Just about everyone could use a little therapy in their life, regardless of if they are involved in a CHINS proceeding. CHINS proceeds are very stressful situations for everyone involved. Courts, therefore, typically order parties to attend therapy to discuss the situation and evaluate any needs you may have. If a CHINS case is opened up against you, take the steps to proactively put yourself in therapy to address issues that may have led to the CHINS filing. This, again, will help demonstrate that you are taking all necessary steps to better your situation, thereby negating the need for “coercive state intervention.”
Drug Test. Drugs are a common problem in today’s society. Whether or not you were accused of using drugs as part of the CHINS allegation, voluntarily taking a drug test helps show your willingness to do whatever it takes to get your child back and out of the system. Plus, many courts at some point during a CHINS proceeding will order the parties to take a drug test anyways. Therefore, this is something you can do to help speed up the process and proactively show the court you have no issues when it comes to drugs.
Finding yourself in the middle of a CHINS proceeding can be intimidating and frustrating. Thus, advocating your legal rights and fighting for your children in such a situation begins with retaining skilled trial counsel familiar with the complex statutes governing CHINS proceedings and DCS’ policies and procedures, and if necessary, later, appellate counsel. Depending on the needs of your case, your counsel may advise you to act on some of the foregoing tips for aiding your CHINS case. This blog post was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle all aspects of CHINS proceedings throughout the state. This blog is written for educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.