What to Do When Your Ex-Spouse Calls CPS
If your ex-spouse calls Child Protective Services, or CPS, your divorce in Nassau or Suffolk County court can become exponentially more difficult. Dealing with CPS is rarely a pleasant experience and even if your ex-spouse has made false claims against you, CPS still has to do its due diligence and fully investigate the situation and ensure the safety of the children in your home environment before closing the case. CPS investigations can make you feel vulnerable. Children may not understand why you are being investigated, and it can be difficult to explain. If your ex-spouse reported you to Child Protective Services, here are the five steps you should take.
#1. Ask What You Are Being Accused Of and Take It Seriously
You have the right to know what the allegations are against you, although CPS may not tell you who made the complaint. It’s possible to remain anonymous when reporting to CPS, so there’s a chance they don’t know who actually called. However, you should be informed of why CPS has opened a case against you, and it’s important that you take the accusations seriously. Even if they sound absurd and like something you’d never do, understand that CPS has seen worse and there’s a good chance that they believe the accusations against you are true.
#2. Never Submit to CPS Questioning Without an Attorney Present
CPS caseworkers will often ask to speak with you, or your child, just to ask a few questions. Parents don’t usually see any problem with this, particularly when they are innocent and have nothing to hide. Innocent or not, you should absolutely never answer any questions asked by a caseworker without a lawyer present. If the caseworker believes you are guilty, they can twist your words to fit their narrative and “prove” that the allegations are true.
#3. Never Allow CPS Into Your Home without a Court Order
When a caseworker asks you to answer some questions, they will often ask to be let into your home at the same time. Again, too many parents don’t realize they have the option to decline if the caseworker does not have a court order. If you allow the caseworker into your home, you waive your Fourth Amendment rights to fair search and seizure. Be aware that even if a police officer accompanies the caseworker, you do not have to let them in, answer questions, or surrender your children without a court order — nor should you.
#4. Be Polite But Firm
It’s never a good idea to be hostile toward a CPS caseworker, even if they are becoming hostile toward you, and it’s very possible that they will if you aren’t letting them into your home or answering their questions. You may be threatened, lied to, or treated poorly for not complying. Regardless, you should politely but firmly maintain your stance that you will not answer questions without an attorney and will not allow CPS into your home without a court order.
#5. Take Your Child to the Doctor
If you’ve been accused of physically harming or otherwise abusing your child, discuss with your attorney the option of taking them to a doctor you trust for a thorough physical examination. The idea here is to get on medical record that your child is free from marks, bruises, or behavior that would indicate abuse, physical or otherwise. CPS may suggest a doctor for your child to go to, but you are not required to go to that doctor and it’s not in your best interest to do so. Instead, use a physician you have a relationship with and ideally has seen your child before for when both healthy and sick.
Contact Our Long Island Divorce Law Firm Today
Defending yourself against CPS isn’t something you should have to navigate alone. Our Long Island divorce and family law firm has worked with numerous clients who have been the subject of unfair CPS investigations launched by angry ex-spouses, and we can provide you with the zealous legal representation you need so you always know what your rights are and what your next move should be.
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