The average person will have an interaction with the police at some point in their life. (If you have never been pulled over or had a cop at your door in your whole life, I would love to hear your story!) Child Protective Services is a rare occurrence, but if you have “free range” children, it is bound to happen. But what should you do?
In my situation, a false child abuse report was filed to CPS and the police in an effort to remove my partner, allowing my abuser to resume control of me and my children. I know I did not handle the situation properly (laughed and told the investigator to get the f*ck off my porch) and I’m sure that 80% of our nightmare could have been prevented if I had been prepared emotionally and physically for dealing with a report against my family.
In this post I am going to discuss how to effectively deal with a report visit and the steps they will take in several scenarios.
So the police or CPS is at your door. They are saying there has been a report made for [insert whatever the story is] and they need to investigate. What to do?
- Remain calm! Remember they are doing their job and it is nothing personal. Take a deep breath and do not speak until you have completely embraced this step!
- Comply within reason. They do not have the right to question your children without your permission and they cannot step into your home without permission, or a warrant. Understand that they cannot threaten, blackmail, or force you into complying with them. If you’re not comfortable, know that you can consult a lawyer and they must respect that. The police, unless they have a warrant, cannot come on your property or question you without your permission or your lawyer present. Same goes for CPS.
- Understand the reason for their visit. Ask as many questions as you can think of at the time. Now is the time to channel your inner 4-year-old and put “Why?” on repeat. The more you know, the better prepared you will be.
The police are asking questions…
My biggest mistake was believing that I will hear the “You have the right…” line before I’m being questioned. This is actually a common misunderstanding. A basic rule of thumb to remember is; If a cop is talking to you, you have the right to remain silent and everything you say can, AND WILL, be used against you! Period. I was advised by a lawyer that, unless an officer has a warrant, I do not have to open the door when they knock, and if they come in my yard (after asking if they have a warrant) you can tell them they are trespassing and you will not speak to them without your lawyer. They are required to leave.
I would like to add that this tactic should be used sparingly. If you don’t have anything to hide, don’t act like it. But don’t let yourself or your family be railroaded out of fear. You do not have to comply or answer questions without proper council. If I could go back and do it again, I would have pulled the lawyer card as soon as I knew my mother had made the false report.
CPS wants you to sign…
I was told by the investigator that they were putting my daughter on a 48-hour hold and I have to sign the safety plan. This is simply not true. In the state of New Mexico, only a police officer can put a child on a protective hold. I can voluntarily place my child into custody, and that is what I was tricked into doing. What do you do when CPS is shoving papers and a pen under your nose, telling you to sign?
- Remain calm!!
- Read through it in its entirety and know that you are NEVER obligated to sign something you don’t understand completely!
- Consult a lawyer. Unless they are hauling you off in handcuffs right there, your children are still in your control and you do not have to give them away.
- Minimize any “safety threats” they perceive. Remember that they are doing their job, and part of that is ensuring the safety of children. In my situation, they said that my partner was the safety threat. Instead of arguing with them that they are wrong and my mom was the actual threat, we should have agreed to have my partner say at a friend’s house for a few days. find out what the problem is to them and fix it for the time being.
Remember, if you are innocent, and your children are not being abused or neglected, you have nothing to worry about. I think CPS can smell worry, and the idea that your babies could be snatched up based on a bullshit call will send any mother into an anxiety attack. Stay calm! This is your home and your family. Everything will be ok!
I never imagined, in a million years, that my own mother could do this to me and my family! However, in hindsight I should have seen it coming. Abusive and controlling people will stop at nothing to abuse and control their victim. They have no “line.” They don’t think of who they will hurt with their actions or who’s life they will destroy in the process. So how do you protect yourself and your family from an abuser?
- Understand that if they will abuse you, everyone in your life is in danger of your abuser’s destruction. No on is safe and you must prepare for the worst at all times!
- Have things in place to prevent the worst. Prepare “what if” plans, much like “What if there is a fire?” or “What if there is a break in?” What if your abuser attacks you through state organizations? If you are safe to talk with your partner about this, do it! If not, choose a friend you can trust, and make a plan. This plan is two parts: How do I get my family in a safe place long term, and what do I do if the shit hits the fan before I’m ready? Prepare for both and work both consistently.
- Set up Life Binders for all of your children as well as Parenting Binders for you and your partner if need be. I have printables and checklists for both binders that you can print out and set up immediately.
- Understand that if CPS or the police have it in their head that the children are in danger and need to be removed, there’s no stopping them.
My lawyer said to treat CPS like kidnappers and my children are held hostage until I give them a million dollars. Any parent in the world will move mountains to get that money. Move the mountain before they ask.