CPS already removed my children, and my mother currently has them under her care. My mother don't let my kids call me or doesn't answer when I call and leave messages. The Social Worker has given my mother their Social Security Cards and Birth Certificate. Now I'm waiting for court this week which according to the worker that I missed the first hearing. Have my rights been taken away from? This is my 2nd Social Worker and still hasn't given me a Case Plan or Sent me to a program or anything.. But tells me to wait for Court to get there 30 minutes early and request an attorney. If I don't show up to this hearing other than probably losing Custody. Would I be arrested or in any trouble? Or can I go to a Notary and sign over my kids to my Mother?
1 Answer from Attorneys
I'm sorry to hear of your current situation. You do have rights, and need to attend the court hearing to exercise them. Your primary right is to have the court appoint an attorney to represent you if you cannot afford to hire one. The SW is right - Go to court, show up early and request an attorney. Then, speak to that attorney about the juvenile dependency process, the purpose of that day's hearing and your options going forward. If you don't like that attorney, you have the right to hire your own, but meet with him or her and try to get as much information as possible.
In most situations, the County will be required to offer you reunification services so that you can resolve the issues which have brought you before that court. Such services take the form of counseling, drug and alcohol treatment, parenting classes, domestic violence workshops, etc., and you will have the opportunity to participate in these programs at little or no cost to you. These services will last for at least 6 months. The SW's goal is to have you reunifiy with your children, and the services offered must be tailored to that end.
Take the classes seriously, participate in them to the best of your ability and remember that every way you can better yourself will, in turn, better your children, and you should be fine. If however, re: your question about "signing over your children to your mother," you desire to waive this reunification timeframe and those reunification services, then, after speaking to your attorney, you can so waive them and go next to a hearing which will determine a permanent plan for your children. If you fail to reunify with your children, you will not be arrested or get into any other kind of trouble unless any of your acts were criminal in nature. However, if adoption is deemed the best plan for your children, your parental rights could be terminated to facilitate that adoption.
I recommend giving the services a go - You may be able to surprise yourself and make a significant and positive change in your life and the lives of your children.
Best of luck,
Paul A. Swiller, Esq.
1901 1st Ave., Second Fl.
San Diego, CA 92101