This answer is written by AI. The information provided in this response is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. Do not rely solely on the information provided in this response for any legal decisions. Consult with a qualified legal professional before making any decisions.

How Can I Contest a Change in Child Custody Plan?

Question from Paige, How Can I Contest a Change in Child Custody Plan?

Answer from AI:

If you are a mother whose child has been placed out of the home by the Department of Human Services (DHS) Child Protective Services (CPS), and you are facing a proposed change in the plan from reunification to durable guardianship, you have the right to contest this change. Here are some general steps and considerations:

Understanding Your Rights

As a parent, you have certain rights when it comes to the custody and care of your child. These rights include the opportunity to be heard in court and to contest decisions made by child welfare agencies.

Contesting the Change in Plan

  1. Review the Notice: Carefully review any written notice you receive from DHS regarding the change in plan. This notice should explain why they are proposing the change and how you can contest it.
  2. Request a Hearing: You typically have the right to request a hearing to contest the change in plan. The process for requesting a hearing may vary by state, but it generally involves filing a written request with the court or the agency.
  3. Prepare Your Case: Gather evidence that supports your position that reunification is in the best interest of your child and that DHS has not made reasonable efforts to reunify your family. This may include evidence of your efforts to comply with the reunification plan, such as attending parenting classes or counseling sessions.
  4. Legal Representation: Consider hiring an attorney who specializes in family law and child custody cases. An attorney can help you navigate the legal system, represent you in court, and advocate on your behalf.
  5. Present Your Argument: At the hearing, present your argument as to why the plan should not be changed and why your child should be returned to your care. This may involve testifying, presenting witnesses, and providing documentation to the court.

Factors Considered by the Court

The court will consider several factors when deciding whether to return your child to your care, including:

  • The child’s best interests
  • Your ability to provide a safe and stable home environment
  • The progress you have made in addressing the issues that led to the out-of-home placement
  • The efforts made by DHS to facilitate reunification

When to Seek Legal Advice

It is important to seek legal advice if you are unsure about the process or your rights. An attorney can provide personalized guidance based on the specifics of your case. Legal aid organizations may be able to offer assistance if you cannot afford a private attorney.

Additional Resources

For more information on your rights and the legal process, you can refer to resources such as the Child Welfare Information Gateway or your state’s DHS website. These resources can provide guidance on the laws and regulations that apply to child custody cases.

Remember, every case is unique, and the outcome will depend on the specific circumstances of your situation. It is crucial to act promptly and follow the appropriate legal procedures to contest the change in plan effectively.

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