If your child or children have been removed from your home by ACS/CPS, we know that you feel frightened, confused, and stressed. We are here to help you understand the process following your child’s removal and the rights you have as their parent. Due to the high-stakes and expedited nature of these proceedings, it is critical that you speak with and hire an attorney to represent you through this process.
If your child is removed from your home by an authorized agency, you are entitled to an emergency hearing to keep your child in your home. ACS/CPS is required to file a petition detailing the charges against you in family court. Once this petition has been filed, an initial hearing will take place.
This initial hearing will take place in Family Court, and the agency with a petition against you (ACS/CPS) will have the option to consent to your child staying in your home or will request that your child be placed in foster care. If the agency requests that your child be placed in foster care, you are entitled to a preliminary hearing. That hearing can happen under Family Court Article 1027 or 1028.
An Article 1027 hearing occurs when your child has been removed from your home without a court order. This hearing must be held no later than one day after filing a petition. At this hearing, the authorized agency must show that there is an imminent risk to your child. If it is able to show imminent, your child will be removed from your home and placed in foster care until a subsequent order is entered or until the disposition of the case.
An Article 1028 hearing can be held any time before a fact-finding hearing. The 1028 hearing will take place within three days of your request. At this hearing, the judge will be presented with information from ACS/CPS as to why the child was removed from your home. You will also be able to present information that contests the allegations made by ACS/CPS. The judge will then determine if there is an imminent risk to your child.
If the judge determines that imminent risk exists, your child will be placed in foster care. If the judge determines that imminent risk does not exist, the child will be returned to you, but the case will NOT be dismissed at this stage.
Please note that you have the right to the following at both a 1027 and 1028 hearing:
- An attorney.
- A copy of the petition.
- The names of the caseworker and the attorney for your child (law guardian).
- The name, location, and telephone number of the foster care agency where your child is staying.
- Reasonable and regularly scheduled visits with the child (unless restricted by the court).
- Request that a relative be considered as a fit foster parent for your child.
The next step in this process is the fact-finding hearing. This hearing will occur in front of a judge who will listen to the evidence presented by either ACS/CPS. The agency must present evidence to prove its allegations of neglect or abuse.
If the agency is able to prove that abuse or neglect occurred, the matter will proceed to a dispositional hearing. The matter will be dismissed if the agency cannot prove abuse or neglect. If your case proceeds to a dispositional hearing, the judge will determine the long-term care plan for your child and any court-ordered programs/classes or counseling required of you. The likely outcome of this hearing will include the following:
- The return of your child to your home under ACS supervision and the completion of classes or programs on your behalf that will help to protect your child.
- Placement of your child with a relative for up to 14 months.
- Placement of your child in foster care for up to 14 months.
- Creation of a supervised visitation schedule for you and your child.
- Counseling or medical treatment, as needed, for your child.
- Ordering ACS to begin proceedings to terminate your rights as a parent.
It is crucial that you hire an attorney before this hearing who has experience in these matters. An experienced attorney will be able to learn the facts of your case, anticipate the information and type of case ACS/CPS will present, and be able to compile and present opposing evidence that will advocate on your behalf. We are here to help you fight for your parental rights and advocate on your family’s behalf.
Our skilled attorneys have experience in these matters and are prepared to represent you and your rights at these hearings.
Do not face these matters alone. Contact our office today at (917) 525-4321