Child Protective Services Defense FAQs
Can CPS Come Into My Home?
Children’s Protective Services may have a need to enter your home to investigate claims of suspected child abuse or neglect. In Michigan, there are three possible ways they can legally enter your home for their investigation.
The first way is if CPS has a warrant or court order supported by probable cause. This means that a judge has reviewed the claims of child abuse or neglect and has decided entering your home to investigate is necessary to proceed with the case. If CPS shows up on your doorstep with a warrant or court order, let them into your home. Be polite, but DO NOT answer any questions about the suspected child abuse or neglect. Tell them you would like your attorney present. CPS is not your friend. Do not be intimidated by them.
The second way CPS can legally enter your home is if there is an emergency circumstance. This means that the Michigan CPS worker reasonably believes the child is in immediate danger in the home. If this happens to you, do not make statements to a Children’s Protective Services worker.
The third way Michigan CPS can legally enter your home is if you give them consent to enter. This is true even if the CPS worker does not have probable cause or emergency circumstances that would otherwise allow them into the home. It is likely that when a Children’s Protective Services worker comes to your home, they will ask to enter so they can investigate. If they do not have a warrant, or cannot come up with an emergency as to why they should be able to enter your home, DO NOT let them in. Be polite, but firm, and tell them that you do not give them permission to come inside and investigate. Do not let them make you feel guilty because you are refusing to allow them in to your home. They may tell you that they will get a warrant if you won’t let them into your home. This is a common tactic. Do not fall for it.
At Kronzek & Cronkright, we are experienced in defending families throughout the state of Michigan. We have helped numerous families fight false allegations made by Children’s Protective Services. Call us at 1-(866)-346-5879 and we can discuss your case.
Legal Guardian Ad Litem
In a CPS case in Michigan, a Legal Guardian Ad Litem (LGAL) will be appointed to represent the interests of the allegedly abused or neglected child. Many of our clients have questions about this process, and we will answer some of those questions below.
Who appoints an LGAL?
The court appoints an LGAL in a Michigan CPS case. Typically, the judge decides who will be the Legal Guardian Ad Litem. Occasionally, the judge chooses the LGAL based on who the child wishes to have as the Legal Guardian Ad Litem.
What does an LGAL do?
An LGAL is a lawyer appointed by the court to look out for the best interests of the alleged abused or neglected child. To do this, the LGAL first reviews the history of the case. Then, the LGAL speaks with the child. The judge will ensure that the LGAL has continuing contact with the child. Finally, the LGAL will make a recommendation as to which course of action is best for the child. The LGAL must be present at the preliminary hearing, and is usually present at all subsequent hearings. They are allowed to participate in all parts of the case, and this includes conducting an independent investigation and interviewing everyone involved. Once the court and parties decide on a plan of action, the LGAL sometimes helps to make sure that the plan is implemented in the future.
Who do LGALs represent?
An LGAL represents the best interests of the allegedly abused or neglected child. What often happens in these Michigan cases is that the LGAL automatically follows CPS’s recommendation on what the best interests of the child should be. For this reason, Kronzek & Cronkright recommends that a separate attorney be hired to represent the child. It is uncommon to see an LGAL make recommendations that are contrary to the CPS worker’s recommendations. Our defense team often takes offense at this “rubber stamp” approach to helping children.
What happens if the child and the LGAL disagree about what is in the child’s best interests?
Children often have opinions about what they think is best for them. If a conflict arises in the child and LGAL’s opinions about what is best, the LGAL is required to report this conflict to the judge. If the judge thinks the child is old enough and mature enough to make their own decisions, the judge may appoint a court-appointed attorney to represent the child, while the LGAL stays involved in the case with their recommendation as to what would be in the child’s best interests.
Can the child fire their LGAL?
No, a child cannot get rid of the LGAL in the case, even if the child and the LGAL don’t agree on what the outcome of the case should be. LGALs serve until the court dismisses them or when the court no longer has jurisdiction over the child. If an LGAL requests to leave the case, the court will only grant their request if there is a substitute LGAL who is very familiar with the case and is ready to take over.
Are the LGAL’s discussions with the child confidential?
Yes, these discussions are confidential. LGALs are obligated to follow the attorney-client privilege. This privilege means that the LGAL cannot be compelled to testify as to what the child told them, so long as the child told the LGAL those things in confidence.
Does the child have to pay for the LGAL?
Unfortunately, yes, a child or the child’s parents or guardian may be required to pay for the services of the LGAL. The Michigan court may enter an order assessing the costs of the LGAL to the child or the child’s parents or guardians, and that order will be enforced by law.
What is a Guardian Ad Litem?
A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is a non-lawyer that the court may appoint for the child if the court feels such an appointment is important for the welfare of the child. The GAL must state in writing why they have an interest in the child’s future. The GAL may receive copies of all petitions, motions, and orders filed in the case. They may also consult with the child. As with an LGAL, the court may assess the costs of the GAL’s services to the child or child’s parents or guardians.
What is a Court-Appointed Special Advocate?
A Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a person the court appoints to represent the child. A CASA has similar rights to a GAL. However, CASAs are volunteers, and therefore the court will not assess the costs of their services to anyone. Not all courts use a Court Appointed Special Advocate.
If you are involved in a CPS investigation, facing termination of parental rights, or a neglect / abuse case, contact Kronzek and Cronkright at 1-(866)-346-5879. We can help.