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What Can Be Done About DCFS? The State of the Los Angeles Foster Care System and the Grim Realities of COVID-19

- purofamilylaw

“I am sometimes a fox and sometimes a lion. The whole secret of government lies in knowing when to be the one or the other.” –Napoleon Bonaparte

When everything is easy one quickly gets stupid.” -Maxim Gorky

Everything comes easy to DCFS. All I can say is avoid DCFS and make sure to avoid DCFS. COVID has shown that the indignity and intolerance of the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services (“LA DCFS”) knows no-end. The revolution on the streets or whatever it is you call 2020 has done absolutely nothing to check the indignity and hypocrisy of the Los Angeles Foster Care System.

The county of Los Angeles has the largest foster care system in the country. There are over 35,000 minor children being supervised by the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services (“LA DCFS”). Over 21,000 children are currently removed from their parents’ home in Los Angeles County. LA DCFS has an annual budget of over $2,200,000 US Dollars per year. That is billions of dollars of liability each year that parents cause the County of Los Angeles when child abuse is reported.

Each year, DCFS receives over 265,000 annual referrals for abuse and neglect. During COVID-19, the child abuse referrals were so low that DCFS and the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department teamed up to find a solution to create more child abuse referrals. Los Angeles County Sheriff planned to knock on random doors to see if children were being abused.

Please read the article for yourself:

While some may argue that it is a noble deed to sniff out a child abuser and help innocent children, others on the front lines feel different. Like Friedrich Nietzsche, one must be suspicious of government altruism. When the local government has the idea to knock on random doors to investigate child abuse, one must question motives. In the end, DCFS backed out of the partnership citing the potential to target minorities. The entire $2.2 Billion Budget that DCFS has is carried on the back of impoverished minorities that do not possess information about DCFS.

For the last decade, I have been a Los Angeles Dependency Attorney that fights against Los Angeles DCFS. DCFS is not solely to blame for the largest foster care system in the country. On the front-lines, I am maneuvering against the Los Angeles Superior Court Dependency Court Judges at the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court, who are armed with low-standards of proof to take away children from their parents. The judges find true between 92-97% of all petitions filed in court alleging abuse and neglect. If you catch a case with DCFS you have about a 3% chance to beat the case.

Once DCFS commences a case, parents are guilty until they can prove their innocence because of the low standard of proof. Trust can only be gained over statutory time frames, compliance in court-ordered services, acknowledging the DCFS version of events, and that the parent genuinely takes responsibility for that version of events. Admitting something that is not true is a tough pill to swallow. Especially, when your children are taken away from you with a 3% chance of beating the case.

The parent fights a three-front war in dependency court. Corporately committed social workers, conservative and complacent judges, and the least unlikely foe, minor’s counsel for the Los Angeles Children’s Law Center (CLC). This three-headed monster is aligned against the parents to place children in foster care. CLC is appointed to represent each child that has a case. Parents have no say in what attorney represents their children. While I acknowledge many great minor’s counsel and I am certified to be a minor’s counsel in Family Law Court, the minors counsel fail to fulfill their obligation to independently present evidence about the child’s best interests. They simply just read off DCFS reports and submit them when it comes to taking children away from their parents.

The war for the soul of the family is not fought fair. If you do not know the rules of engagement, your kids can be adopted away from you forever. DCFS, the court, and the minor’s counsel often combine to create dangerous circumstances for children and their parents.

This blog will soar above the Los Angeles foster care system to assess its state and swoop down to document the grim reality of COVID-19 for parents and children caught up in the DCFS system. I mean no disrespect to the actual victims of abuse and neglect nor the attorneys that fulfill their oaths.

DCFS Investigations: What Do I Do if a Social Worker Knocks on My Door?

When DCFS investigates one of the 265,000 referrals for child abuse it receives from the child abuse hotline each year, it raises Constitutional protections for parents. Under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, a mother and father have an unenumerated fundamental liberty right to parent their child as they see fit without government interference. A parents’ Constitutional right to parent collides with the governments “DUTY” to protect children, the odds tilt in favor of big government.

LA DCFS is the government and has a “DUTY” to protect children from abuse and neglect. The word “duty” is the same word and element in a negligence and wrongful death action. If DCFS does not fulfill their duty to protect children, they could be sued.

DCFS has a $2.2 billion per year annual budget. DCFS’ interest in not getting sued is what drives the foster care system. Look no further than DCFS corporate mission statement “With one voice we stand.” DCFS must always back up another social worker’s recommendations, even if unjust. A DCFS social worker will unknowingly bend and twist the truth to fit their own ends.

DCFS Investigation, What Are My Rights?

The only way to get rid of DCFS is during their investigation for child abuse.

If you have children it is only a matter of time before a social worker knocks at your door. Understand that the social worker has a duty to determine if abuse has occurred and if court intervention and removal of the child from the home is necessary.

DCFS investigations require the social worker to speak with both parents and the child about the allegations. The social worker must conduct a home inspection about the safety of the home. The social worker may speak with third parties about the abuse. Within 30 days, the social worker must close the referral, refer the case for court intervention, or have the parents agree to voluntary services.

If a social worker comes to my home unannounced and wants to speak with me and my children what are my rights?

  • You have a right to have an attorney present when interviewed
  • You have a right to deny social worker access to your home without a warrant
  • You have a right to deny access to the social worker to your children without a warrant
  • Beware, your failure to speak with the social worker or allow access to your children will result in a warrant being sought.
  • You have to cooperate with the investigation and having a lawyer that specializes in DCFS’ cases to assist you in the investigation is a right you need to assert at first contact with DCFS

If a social worker knocks at my door, what should I say?

  • I am exercising my right to have an attorney present when interviewed
  • Please provide me with your card
  • I am sorry you cannot come in until I have consulted with an attorney

As soon as DCFS shows up at your doorstep, assert your right to have an attorney present when interviewed. Immediately contact an attorney that specializes in dependency court and DCFS investigations. You do not have to speak with the social worker at first contact.

Hiring a dependency attorney to handle your DCFS investigation allows you to stall the social worker investigation, gather needed evidence, gain knowledge about DCFS, and prepare for the most important interview of your life. So many cases with DCFS could be avoided if handled properly up-front after initial government contact. Remember DCFS has 265,000 referrals for abuse and neglect each year, if you handle the investigation properly it is more likely that they will move on to someone who makes a common mistake.

If your child is young and unable to speak, it is best practice to allow the social worker to come into your home. See and inspect your child for marks or bruises and make sure that the home is safe. This allows them to check that off their investigation checklist.

How DCFS Will Remove Your Children: What To Do When DCFS Seeks a Warrant

The social worker that comes to your doorstep has no authority to decide what happens to your children. An Emergency Response Social Worker is the bottom of the food chain at DCFS. The Emergency Social Worker is required to consult with their supervisor to make any decision about your case. You will hardly ever meet your DCFS supervisor.

To quote Iggy Pop, your DCFS supervisor “is colder than a corporate lawsuit.” The DCFS supervisor will never meet you or your family, see your home, yet decides if your children are placed in foster care. The lowly social worker that comes to your front door must fall in line because at DCFS “with one voice they stand.” So it is important to know how the DCFS supervisor assesses cases. Everything that you say to the social worker that initially shows up at your door must be calculated to please their supervisor.

DCFS can only remove a child from a parent if they have a warrant, exigent (emergency) circumstances, or the consent of a parent. An emergency would be that a parent is arrested for serious abuse and the child is left with no place to go because the parent is in jail. A parent sometimes should consent to the removal if there truly is an issue. Another time to consent to the removal would when DCFS asks you to do it or they will open a case or place the child in foster care. Yes, DCFS uses coercion to obtain their objectives. Prior to consenting to your children’s removal, contact an experienced dependency/DCFS attorney.

DCFS will obtain a warrant to take your kids like clockwork and without any effort or basis. DCFS has the weapons, tools (literally), and resources to obtain a warrant to steal your child. Do not underestimate DCFS and make sure every move you make is calculated. DCFS has the advantage of the incompetence and fear of the Los Angeles Superior Court Dependency Court Judges. Not all judges in dependency court are terrible, but the good majority of them lack the temperament, intelligence, and courage to stand up to DCFS. The judges that stand-up to DCFS are chased out of the courthouse by politics.

The Judge Who Signs Every Single DCFS Warrant

Presently, there are around 27,000 pending cases assigned to the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court. The judges have caseloads averaging around 1,200 cases. Each judge on a daily basis is making decisions for 50-70 children per day.

All judges except The old man have the largest caseloads in the country. I have it on good authority that The old man only has 40 cases assigned to him, despite presiding over one of the most infamous departments in the history of the Los Angeles Superior Court.

The old man only has 40 cases because lawyers exercise their Code of Civil Procedure 170.6 Affidavit of Prejudice to fire him on any case that gets assigned to Department 419. The only lawyers that do not fire The old man are DCFS’ shield and sword, the Los Angeles County Counsel’s Office. County Counsel represent the social workers in court. County Counsel do not fire The old man because The old man does whatever DCFS wants him to do every single time.

All of the cases that The old man gets fired are assigned and dumped on the other 24 judges at the courthouse. I have witnessed the most professional judges grumble when one of The old man’s case gets dumped on them. The old man has no business being assigned to such an important post as determining warrants.

The most important job in the system is to screen when a child should be separated from their parents initially. For the Los Angeles Superior Court to assign The old man to the most important job in the system, demonstrates either incompetence on their part or that The old man is politically connected and his position vital to some interest.

When DCFS seeks a warrant to remove children from their parents, they are required to demonstrate in the warrant that “reasonable efforts were made to prevent the removal” and that other family members were assessed for placement. Neither is true in a staggering number of warrants filed by DCFS. I have reviewed at least 500 warrants signed by The old man removing children from their parents in the last 5 years. I have spoken with so many of my colleagues and everyone agrees that The old man signs every single warrant presented to him by DCFS.

The old man Signed This Warrant

One of my cases involved a Korean family who had a nanny. The nanny admitted that she ran the parent’s 9-month-old baby’s head into the corner of the wall. The parents noticed a bump on the child’s head and immediately took the child to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The x-ray revealed a fracture.

The Children’s Hospital doctor said that the nanny’s explanation of the injuries was not possible and that the parents could have abused the baby. The old man signed the warrant. A different judge reviewed the case and returned the baby to the parents from foster care right before COVID. Had that case been assigned to 20 other judges, the baby would have been in a foster home and maybe adopted.

The old man is that bad of a judge. The nanny later admitted that she dropped the baby on her head to the police. DCFS and their team of expert hack child abuse doctors do not care. They make real money calling it child abuse and the judges are too conservative to take a chance because of liability.

What Should I Do When DCFS Says They Are Seeking A Warrant To Remove My Children?

Trust me when I say that, when DCFS informs you that they are seeking a warrant to remove your child, The old man is going to sign the warrant 99.9% of the time. Once DCFS seeks a warrant, it is highly unlikely that they will place your children initially with relatives. DCFS only cares about their liability. DCFS will knowingly make efforts to place your children in foster care and assess relatives later. To get a child out of foster care, a relative must complete the RFA process. RFA takes like a month and requires the relative to basically become a certified foster parent.

It is better for DCFS that the relative be a certified foster parent that knows CPR and takes the RFA class for DCFS liability. So preventing your child from entering foster care and being with relatives can be the difference of 6 months in foster care or zero days.

I advise clients that once DCFS informs them that they are seeking a warrant, to take the children to a grandparent, aunt, or uncle that has a clean criminal and child welfare history in the Greater Los Angeles area. After the social worker informs you that a warrant is being sought, inform the social worker in writing via email and text where the child will be and it is your wish that the child remain there. This will force the social worker to actually have to assess the relative before placing the children in foster care. No requirement exists that relatives must be RFA approved for initial placement before disposition of the case.

Once my clients are informed that DCFS is seeking a warrant, I screen for proper relatives and advise them to take the child there and inform the social worker in writing. In each and every case, despite DCFS knowing where the child was, the social worker went to the parents’ home with the police, and threatened them with abduction charges if the child was not brought to DCFS immediately. After 30-60 days of investigation, DCFS did not once assess relatives for placement. DCFS will put your child in foster care and justify their actions because judges like The old man are happy to move onto the next case.

DCFS does not care about the trauma of initially separating your child from family. Once DCFS seeks a warrant, they will rarely try and work with the family to keep the kids out of foster care or they will seek relative’s hostile to the parents. DCFS gets more funding when kids are in foster care and can defer decisions to judges longer about your case.

Be aware that if DCFS seeks a warrant to remove your child that The old man is on autopilot and will be obliged to sign it. The odds are highly stacked against the parents when DCFS seeks a warrant. When I see an initial DCFS warrant denied, it is like finding a “golden ticket.”

DCFS and the Social Worker Are Not Completely to Blame

As Confucius wrote around 551 B.C., “because men forget that they cannot regulate their families if they do not regulate themselves because they have not rectified their hearts, they have not cleansed their own souls of disorderly desires, their hearts are not rectified because their thinking is insincere, doing scant justice to reality and concealing rather than revealing their own natures, their own thinking is insincere because they let their wishes discolor the facts and determine their own conclusion…”

DCFS is unable to get to the truth or the nature of anything due to liability. Their $2.2 billion-dollar budget will not allow justice to be served based on truth.

Parents lie about abuse, coach children to report abuse, or use the system in a way to obtain their objectives. Peoples selfish desires, lies, distortions, and actions need to be fleshed out by a better trained DCFS worker. Front line social workers need to be armed with discretion in performance of their duties.

Social workers are afraid of getting sued and recommend removal of children when services and solutions exist for maintaining the family together exists. Social workers and Supervisors are trained to identify cases that pose risk of liability to the county. Their ability to sniff out parent’s that distort the truth is amateur at best. DCFS is as predicable as your most annoying has-been-friend on social media.

According to DCFS data, once DCFS obtains a warrant and removes a child from the parents, it takes the parents on average 9.1 months to get the child back. If your child is removed by a warrant and removed from the Detention Hearing, DCFS will do nothing to help you get you have taken responsibility for your actions, completed their case plan, and enough time has passed for the threat of liability to pass them.

DCFS removes and separates children from their families based actual abuse of child as well as future risk of harm to the child. A great number of children in the foster care system have never actually been abused and are removed from their parents based on a finding of a juvenile law judge that the child(ren) are at risk of future abuse or neglect. In the law, crystal balls are avoided, but not in dependency court.

After the court takes away children from their parents, the law requires that a trial occur within 60 days unless exceptional cause exists to continue past that time frame. The reason is that is that once a child is removed from both parents, they only have 18 months to reunify. After 18 months the court shall set a permanent plan for adoption, legal guardianship, or planned permanent living arrangement in foster care.

Parents have a right to set a no-time waiver trial within 15 days of their children being removed or 30 days if the child is placed with a parent. Jumping to the front of the line with a no-time waiver trial is sometimes a fatal mistake. Remember that around 97% of all dependency petitions are sustained as true. That means that only 3% of the families in children’s court are ever vindicated of child abuse and neglect allegations. If I do not think that the client has a good chance to win the case, I will not set a no-time waiver because the client needs time to mitigate and recede the DCFS, CLC, and the court’s liability.

DCFS Does Not Pay For Services and Programs To Get Your Children Back

The court and DCFS calculate future risk to children based on parent(s) enrollment and participation in services. These services or classes include: anger management, domestic violence group therapy for victims, domestic violence preparators group therapy 52 weeks, drugs and alcohol program, random drug and alcohol testing, individual therapy with a license marriage and family therapist, parenting class, and sexual abuse awareness class.

Los Angeles County does not pay for any of the services except for drug and alcohol testing. When DCFS removes a child, the parents are forced to attend these services or risk adoption. If the parent does not do the classes or benefit in a way from the classes that the social deems appropriate, the child(ren) will most likely be adopted. If you want to fight DCFS and the court, you have to play their corporate game and complete their services. The sooner you get started in programs and say the right things about what you learned in the classes, the sooner your kids can come back.

By analogy, before law school, I worked at Enterprise Rental Car. I felt selling the rental car insurance was unethical. However, I needed to have my bosses like me so sold the car insurance against my ethics. I would say corporate things to my bosses to make them think that I believed in Enterprise. Deep down, I understood that people with insurance were covered with their rental car insurance. Once I was accepted into law school, I did not sell the insurance. To effectively deal with DCFS and the court you have to pretend you want to sell the rental car insurance by doing the classes and services. Otherwise, your risk creating liability and getting an adoption recommendation to DCFS.

The services and classes that DCFS and the courts require are like glorified traffic school courses. At one anger management class approved by DCFS, a Compton School Teacher wrongfully accused of abuse was forced to go to anger management to get her child back. The old senile German woman that ran the program showed Vin Diesel movies, while collecting everyone’s $50 per class. Anger Management for DCFS is a 12-56-week course, to quote Too Short, “get a calculator and do the math.”

Social workers rarely check in with service providers about a parent’s progress until the very last moment. It is important to be proactive and provide your social worker with frequent progress letters from your programs. When dealing with DCFS, you must do their job for them and make them think that they did it.

Social work in Los Angeles has been a thing of the past. The new age social worker will disparage you, lie about you, double down on you, and do everything to thwart you as you try and prove your innocence. Once you have an open court case, everything you say and do will be used against you. It is important to learn how to talk to DCFS. Everything you say to DCFS goes into a report that the judges read and basically take as gospel.

As an attorney that fights DCFS, I am in the trenches with my clients coaching them how to talk to DCFS. I advise clients that every time that they talk to DCFS it has to be like a star athlete speaking after the professional sporting match. At the end of the game, the star athlete thanks God (the services), compliments his teammates (the service providers), and takes responsibility for the win or loss (acknowledges that DCFS version of events happened and they learned from them). Not every case is the same, but this is standard practice. If you are losing your DCFS case it is time to re-think your strategy. Communication with DCFS determines their liability. So learn how to walk, talk, and think like a social worker.

Grim Realities for DCFS Cases During COVID-19

As we soared above DCFS and the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court we saw some grave injustices. Swooping down, we will now explore DCFS and the Courts responses to COVID-19.

The Edmund D. Edelman closed completely from March 16-March 19, 2020. The court house was closed to all non-emergency cases and is slated to open back up on June 22, 2020. Until June 22, 2020, the only cases being heard at the courthouse are Detention Hearings (first hearing in court) and restraining orders. Parents and children are not allowed to physically enter the courthouse or to meet their attorneys during COVID-19.

The court has transitioned to WEB-EX hearings. Parents sign in from computers if they have one and listen to an attorney they have never met tell the judge not to place their children in foster care. CLC is interviewing children electronically. Imagine being 5 years old and meeting your attorney on Facetime and that attorney asking the judge to place you in foster care.

Pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code Section 350, the dependency court is supposed to be an informal and collaborative process so that everyone can work together to find a solution. I sometimes negotiate cases back and forth for 8 hours in court. Online that is not possible. Hearings being online is going to mean more kids in foster care and families having less and less information.

To strip parents of their right to an in-person dependency court hearing is to put more and more power into DCFS’ hands. The judges, minor’s counsel, and court-appointed parents attorneys will be cutting even more corners and doing cases with less information.

Breaking News: May 29, 2020 Monterey Park, CA

The presiding judge of the juvenile dependency court of the Los Angeles Superior Court has announced until further notice all juvenile dependency hearings will be conducted via WEB-EX. Hearings will commence on June 22, 2020 will only be conducted remotely. This is an even greater loss to due process and access to justice to the thousands of children currently separated from their families in the foster care system.

Breaking News: July 09, 2020

I have conducted my first WEB-EX hearings. Everyone signs in randomly and can sign in and interrupt the judge at any moment. I would say there were 15-20 interruptions during my case today. The highlight was when my hearing was interrupted by someone that signed in under the call-in “thebigfuago.” I can still hear the judge, “Can “thebigfuago” please identify themselves.” The judge had to kick “thebigfuago” out of the cloud so we could conduct a hearing that had been postponed over 13-months.

The report from the front is grim. In one case, we were able to contact a father to come to court for the first-time. The case was assigned to a terrible judge. One that does whatever DCFS wants every time and plays on her phone in-between cases. Anyway, the father exercised his CCP 170.6 Affidavit of Prejudice rights and fired the judge. The case went to an even worse judge who has a temper.

The judge called the case and did the trial without reading any paperwork. I know this to be true because the case was assigned to the judge at 11:30 am. I was called in the middle of a bowl of Pho at 11:55 am. The judge insisted that we go forward right then and there. The case went until 1:30pm. Lunch at court is from 12-1:30pm and judges are prohibited working into the lunch hour. So a judge decided about a case over the internet without reading anything about it.

The next day, the same judge that kicked out “thebigfuago” did a trial without reading my trial brief. She admitted to having not read the brief or reviewing the exhibits. The courts are only agreeing with DCFS more because of COVID. When I mentioned that the father was upset and not seeing his child for 120 days and that DCFS did nothing to set-up visits, the judge could have cared less. The judges do not care that parents could not see their children during COVID.

Parents Not Allowed to Visit Children During COVID-19

The most fundamental right in dependency court is that all parents get to visit their children unless the court finds that it would be emotionally detrimental to the child. I have a case right now, where the father molested a child and still has a visitation order.

Due to COVID-19, DCFS closed all of their county offices. At the DCFS office, parents have court-ordered visits with their children, relatives are fingerprinted for background checks for placement and to act as monitors, and parents are interviewed in person about allegations. DCFS suspended all monitored visits for parents during COVID-19. Many of my clients have not seen their children since March of 2020 and there is nothing that I can legally do about it. A social worker recently set up a facetime for my client with his 6-month old baby.

The court is not accepting walk-on requests to setup visits. The judges are not in session and not processing requests to set up visits and change orders that restrict access of parents to children. It is as if they are just sitting on their hands waiting for June 22, 2020 to re-open. Nothing is being done to offer relief to parents unable to see their children.

A large majority of parents are ordered monitored visits. In every case, the judge gives DCFS discretion to approve a monitor. DCFS procedure is that they finger print the proposed monitor, go over a visitation rules sheet, and set up a visitation schedule. This requires the proposed monitor to go to the DCFS office. Even under non COVID-19 times, getting a monitor approved can take up to months due to social worker apathy. Since the DCFS offices are closed, monitors cannot be approved. As such visits that must occur at the DCFS office are not occurring. So parents with monitored visits have not seen their children since at least the first week of March.

The courts do not want to micro-manage DCFS approval of monitors. So for years, the issue of approving a monitor is always deferred by the court. During COVID-19, the court has deferred the approval of monitors to DCFS. The result being parents do not get to see their children. The court must approve monitors and take away the delay in visits caused by DCFS. That is not likely to happen.

I have a case where DCFS set up a Facetime with a 6-month old child. DCFS wrote a letter that due to COVID-19 that visits must be electronically until further notice. The court order for monitored visits still exist in my case and in all of the other 27,000 cases at the courthouse. So DCFS is defying a court order that they facilitate visits for parents.

If DCFS actually performed social work and approved monitors or the court acknowledged DCFS failure to facilitate visits and ordered monitors without background checks during the pandemic the problem could be mitigated. However, like all things in the foster care system, liability and a lack of compassion dictate what occurs.

Time Frames for Adoption is 18 Months

Children cannot be in the foster care system forever. The Welfare and Institutions Code Section 366.21(e), (f), and 366.22 provide the time frame by which a child has to be returned to his parents or be placed for adoption. When a child is removed from both parents, the clock starts to tick towards a permanent plan.

When a child is removed from a parent’s custody and control a review hearing must take place within six months.

Cases that are required to have review hearings within 6 months have been continued 13 months by the court. DCFS closed all of their offices. As a result, children in foster care have not been able to physically visit their parents since March of 2020. DCFS has done little to find solutions to facilitate visits and have thrown their hands up waiting for the judges to modify existing orders, that are now 13 months away. Parents are being denied basic due process.

The services and programs that required to play DCFS game to get your kids back are closed. During COVID-19 parents have been unable to see their children and unable to participate in classes to get them back.

DCFS has required parents to drug testing during COVID-19. One of my clients informed me that at the drugs test a man stood 6 inches from his penis and watched him urinate without a mask on. This is highly indecent.

Mothers that are victims of domestic violence cannot attend their group domestic violence course to start to get their children. DCFS does not accept or allow online classes.

What Can Actually Be Done to Stop DCFS?

COVID-19 has demonstrated that with less child abuse referrals less cases are being filed. I am very interested in obtaining the data of child abuse referrals during COVID-19 closures. More of an effort to prevent cases from being filed during the DCFS investigation phase must occur before it’s too late.

DCFS’ coercive and corporate tactics need to become known and addressed. I believe that if parents were given an attorney during the child abuse investigation and before making any statements that the foster care system in Los Angeles would evaporate over-time. So first and foremost, know your rights when the social worker knocks at your door.

The Los Angeles Superior Court needs to acknowledge The old man’s failures. The court must reassign The old man from warrant duty for the Los Angeles Superior Court permanently.

A task force to investigate The old man’s warrants must be set up immediately to uncover DCFS’ failure to prevent removal and find relatives to place children. As a front-line worker with DCFS, I can assure you that the numbers will be appalling. The Los Angeles Superior Court must assign the most talented judges to warrant duty to make-up for all of the children that The old man condemned to foster care.

The Los Angeles Superior Court needs to recruit only the most talented judges. Right now, DCFS gets whatever they want from the judges when it comes to removing children from their parents. The judges need to swing the pendulum back towards the rule of law and applying the rules of evidence strictly. The judges at the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court need better leadership.

Families under stress and turmoil need to be made aware of the pits of DCFS and the foster care system. When times get stressful and your family is breaking apart, contact a competent family law and dependency law attorney in Long Beach to help find a solution to your families’ problems without involving the government.

Families need to find cooperative solutions when dissolving and avoid mandated child abuse reporters that report them on a whim.

In the end, the corporate child abuse and neglect system is Los Angeles is only going to grow. All that one can do to fight DCFS is to learn about how DCFS operates and govern yourself accordingly.

“Meth Babies” in the California Dependency Court System

- purofamilylaw

‘The greatest souls are capable of the greatest vices as well as the greatest virtues, and those who go forward only very slowly can progress much further if they always keep the right path, than those who wander and run off of it.” –Rene Descartes

At the Law Offices of Kyle R. Puro, our experienced Long Beach, California dependency attorney knows first-hand that one of the most common cases at the Los Angeles County Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court involves mothers ingesting methamphetamine (“meth”) while pregnant, and testing positive during healthcare screenings. The babies born to these meth moms are often born with positive toxicology results for meth and other harmful drugs. I recall at least a dozen cases where a mother used meth within days of giving birth. Do California’s drug laws and homeless culture spawn more meth babies? No one on the front lines of the child abuse and neglect field would disagree that the number of cases involving newborn children suffering from positive toxicology for meth at birth is staggering.

When mothers use drugs during their pregnancies, they are not only hurting themselves but the innocent child in their womb. Drug use during pregnancy has severe consequences. They are self-evident.

In 2014, I was a court appointed attorney of a mother that abused meth during her pregnancy. Somehow, the parents had the child released to them from the NICU. In court, I saw a sight that I would have expected to see in an actual war zone.  I saw a 2-month old meth baby just released from the NICU in Palmdale. This little baby boy was so thin and weak that it reminded me of death, not life. The baby’s neck was so twisted and bent at an angle, it made me grimace like something out of a horror film.

A well-respected judge and former mentor of mine detained the baby boy in court. I observed the bailiff remove a fragile baby boy out the parents’ arms as they wailed and sobbed. I do not think one person in the courtroom felt any remorse for the parents. I have read more hospital records from the NICU of kids having withdrawal symptoms, unable to feed, unable to grow, and only able to sustain the first part of life on an incubator than I care to recall.

The common meth mom stories are not like Oliver Twist. In my experience, meth moms come from good families and lost their way in the depths of a methamphetamine addiction. As a lawyer, my job is to apply the law to the facts of the case. A lawyer must be professional enough to leave personal sentiments aside.

Do all drug addicts that abuse meth or hard drugs during pregnancy deserve to have their children taken away?  From a moral standpoint it seems black and white. When things are black and white you need to know your rights before DCFS “comes a-knocking.”

You Have the Right to Have an Attorney Present When Questioned by DCFS

Parents have an unremunerated fundamental liberty right under the United States Constitution to parent their children as they see fit without government interference. As such, parents have a right to have an attorney present when being questioned by DCFS. If a social worker is making first contact with you, it is wise to request that the interview be set up at a time when counsel can be present. Social workers will get very aggressive if you say that you want your attorney present and that might cause them to react by bringing in a police officer.

Here is the script all parents should repeat to a social worker that will hopefully defuse the tension of their government interaction.

Social Worker: “I would like to speak with you about a referral that I received about concerns for child abuse. We received a report that you tested positive for the drug methamphetamine. Do you use drugs ma’am?”

Parent Response: “I want to invoke my right to have an attorney present. I do wish to cooperate with your investigation. Please provide me with your business card and I will have an attorney contact your attorney to set something up as soon as I get out of the hospital.”

After a parent talks to a social worker once, the right to have an attorney present still exists, but the damage is likely already done. Parents make admissions, social workers twist words, and kids say the darndest things. After admissions and statements are made that meth was used, the meth baby is almost assured to be removed from both parents’ custody.

It is necessary to cooperate with the social worker in a timely manner while he or she is investigating child abuse. Social workers apply for warrants to remove children from their homes after positive meth results and are almost always rewarded those requests without delay. If you refuse to cooperate, you can expect a warrant signed by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rudolph Diaz removing the child from the parents’ care.

Hiring an attorney before making your first statements to DCFS defuses the situation and does not allow DCFS the opportunity to gain damaging evidence at a vulnerable time. Cooler heads prevail and your ability to effectively invoke your right to counsel could be the difference between foster care or placement with a relative.

As a human, I am absolutely disgusted with meth abuse in any manner and especially while pregnant. No one hates the reality of meth abuse more than me. As a lawyer, it is my professional obligation to inform clients of their rights and defend their case to the best of my ability. As a lawyer, I am dedicated to diligently and competently advocating on my client’s behalf based on the facts and evidence of the case. The amount of meth cases is so overwhelming that I wanted my community to know how meth cases are handled every day.  If you’re on meth and fighting DCFS this one is for you!

Here are some of the common themes that come up in a meth baby case:

DO NOT USE METH FIRST AND FOREMOST: If you stop using meth and test clean at the birth, you will not have your child taken from you if you make the right moves going forward. Go to a church. Make amends with someone from your past. Seek help. Address whatever trauma or affliction is driving you to use and harm an innocent baby. Stopping early in your pregnancy gives you a better chance to keep the baby. If the baby is born positive for drugs and you are in inpatient recovery at the time, you stand a better chance to keep the baby. If you are using meth and pregnant call a dependency lawyer immediately. The sooner you seek help the better.

IF YOU CANNOT STOP USING METH BE PREPRARED TO FACE THE CONSEQUENCES.

What if the Hospital Accuses You of Meth Use?

If you are accused by hospital staff of meth use, it will feel like an ambush. Expect the good cop and bad cop routine. During all births, the hospital performs a preliminary screening for drugs in the mother and child’s systems. After a positive test, the doctors will get information from you and dispatch social workers to interview you. Before you even know it, you will be under investigation by the government and will have inadvertently said everything necessary to send your new-born baby to foster care. Meth moms’ make some very memorable and pathetic excuses. What you say, can and will be used against you in court. As soon as they say you had a positive meth test invoke your rights:

  • Request another test
  • Request a lawyer be present if they are investigating child abuse, I know my rights

Request a Make-Up Test. The hospital drug test is not generally admissible in court. Hospital drug tests are initial screenings and do not rise to the level in the scientific community as being reliable science. As such, the hospital test is inadmissible in evidence at the time of trial with proper objection. On the hospital test paperwork, you will generally find language that states “This test is not valid unless confirmed.” Confirmed means that another test occurs to confirm the results. So, if you tested positive and did not use, take another drug test.

Prior to a court order, parents are not required to take a drug test for DCFS. DCFS cannot force you to take a drug test. It is recommended to consult right away with a DCFS attorney if you are accused of testing positive for drugs at the hospital and DCFS requests that you take a drug test.

Stalling the DCFS investigation gives parents a better chance of things working out. If you are a hardcore meth user, saying nothing, doing no further test, and then testing negative after release from the hospital, and entering a rehab program may be helpful later in court to win your case. Most people on meth who are having children are not in their right minds and say things that damage their case and credibility. If you appear to be hiding information, it will crush your credibility even further. So be careful about what information you provide and speak with an attorney about what best to disclose to DCFS.

I almost forgot an innocent child’s life is in danger and hospital staff need meth moms’ cooperation to save a precious life.

BE HONEST AND UPFRONT OPTION: If you’re truly meth addicted and tested positive for meth at your baby’s birth, OWN IT. Do not lie to the healthcare providers trying to save your new-born child’s life. If you’re using, the court will find out and you will lose your kid. Your child’s life and health depend on your honesty.

RELATIVE PLACEMENT: If you are honest with the hospital staff and social worker, it is more likely the social worker may feel enough sympathy to place the child with an appropriate relative. Make sure to find a relative with no criminal law or DCFS records that has enough room to take your child. Get that relative to the hospital right away. Make it known that this relative is your plan for your child’s care. Failure to get a placement with a relative from the NICU significantly increases the chances for an adoption. Social workers place a premium on meth babies because couples seeking adoption want newborns that they can nurse from birth.

What If I Tested Positive but Did Not Use Drugs While Pregnant?

In some instances, drug tests can produce a false-positive result. Although uncommon, it is a very real possibility. I have worked on at least a dozen cases where false positive tests at the hospital were followed up by negative tests.

If you really did not use meth while pregnant, be sure to take another drug test that is DCFS approved right away or is observed. Take your own after leaving the hospital, and make sure the test is observed by a credible third party. If you cannot leave the hospital, find the test option available for a DCFS approved test.

The court and DCFS cannot force you to take a hair follicle test.  If you a truly innocent taking a hair follicle test at an approved facility is recommended. In dependency court, you are guilty until you prove your innocence.

Your current prescriptions or supplements could result in false-positive test results, so be sure to list everything you are taking before a second drug test is initiated.

The hospital tests are usually only preliminary tests results and are not valid in court. So, if you do not admit to using meth or any drugs during pregnancy, you have a better chance to beat the case.

If the second test is negative and you do not make any admission of drug abuse to the social worker, your case is stronger. Any criminal history, DCFS history, mental health, or drug history increases the chances that DCFS will take your child just on a false positive test. If you have never been involved with any of these things, the only information that DCFS will know about you is what you and other people they interview say about you. Be careful about disclosing histories without consulting with an attorney.

Social worker’s write down, twist, and bend everything you tell them, so be careful what you say during an interview. I instruct my client that DCFS is like dealing with a corporation, you must talk as the cooperation expects, or you are dealt with swiftly. Thoroughly preparing and being ready to answer DCFS questions is strongly recommended at any phase of a case.

What Happens to My Baby When I Test Positive for Meth?

DCFS will obtain a warrant to remove the child from your care and provide a notice for you to appear in court. At the first court date, the court will remove the baby from your care, and set a trial. At the trial, you can expect to lose, like 97% of all cases filed at the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court. That means that the court will find enough evidence that you present at danger to your child and remove them from your care and control and place them in foster care or with a relative. Any first-time parent of a meth baby is legally allowed the opportunity to reunify. Parents are ordered Family Reunification Services, which is the right to attend programs to get the child back as the child is placed with a relative or in foster care.

Family Reunification Services still means that you are an unfit parent and unable to safely care for the child. What you can hope to obtain in about 9.1 months of continued sobriety is Family Maintenance Services. Family Maintenance Services means the child resides with a parent subject to court supervision. Reunification means that the child is removed from both parents.

What Services or Classes Do Meth Moms Have to Complete?

The court will order parents found unfit because of meth to participate in the following programs:

  1. Full Substance Abuse Testing Program: This must be a DCFS approved treatment center. Consult with an attorney or DCFS before entering.
  2. Random and On-demand Testing: The social worker will give you a telephone number to call each day and if your last name letter comes in it is your day to test.  Any missed test counts as a failed test. It is extremely important to never miss a test. It gives the parents the best credibility of abstaining from use.
  3. Individual Counseling with a Licensed Therapist: Find a Marriage and Family Therapist or Psychologist to meet with and talk about the case’s issues.
  4. AA/NA with a Sponsor and After-care Program: Consult with an attorney about how to comply.
  5. Parenting Classes: Courses last from 8-12 weeks and cannot be taken online.

After ordering the parents into programs, the case will continue for six months. During the reunification period, parents should visit their child, complete the classes, and demonstrate remorse. If the parents do not complete their case plans, the court can set an adoption hearing after six months.

What Happens to My Baby If I Continue to Use Meth?

Any parent of a child under three years old at the time of disposition has as little as SIX MONTHS to get their child back. This is a very unrealistic time frame for someone who has decayed from drug abuse.

That means meth parents who are living in an unstable environment who continue to use meth have little to no chance to rehabilitate and reunify with the child.

The words “relapse is part of recovery” is a phrase that carries little sympathy in the dependency court, and with the stakes so high and the time for mistakes so short, meth babies are adopted daily.

When a mother enters an inpatient facility and drops out, it will delay the reunification, and adoption is more likely to occur. Meth parents have no room for error.

When considering reunification, social workers expect approximately nine months of consistent negative drug tests and compliance with the services before they will consider sending any meth baby back home. It seems like an unwritten rule that a social worker will not start to give a meth parent unmonitored visits until at least 9 months of sobriety from their last use.

Any relapse that interrupts the nine months of sobriety will crush your case. Parents only have a total of 18 months to get their children back if they are making progress in court ordered services.

How Can I Get Help for Meth Addiction and Get My Baby Back?

If you are addicted to meth, or any other type of narcotics, and are pregnant or have recently had a baby who tested positive for meth, get help immediately.

Here are some tips if you want to get off meth and avoid the court from adopting your child:

  • Enroll in Medi-Cal coverage, as it accepted by many inpatient facilities
  • Check into an inpatient facility and get off the streets
  • Address your childhood and trauma and remember the good things about yourself
  • Delete your phone contacts, and consider changing your phone number
  • Find a new area to stay, away from people you used with
  • Attend AA or NA
  • Call someone who loves you, apologize and ask for help
  • Find outpatient drug treatment programs

The court cannot order meth parents into inpatient rehab. They can strongly recommend it but cannot order it. If you are using meth, getting 30 days sober and staying away from temptation can be the difference of a foundation of sobriety and preventing an adoption.

What Can I Do to Help A Pregnant Relative Who is Using Meth or I Suspect is Using?

When DCFS removes a child from birth parents, it is a very sensitive process. You must not be too quick to judge the afflicted because the trauma she suffered during childhood is often the root cause for reckless behavior.

The first step in helping someone you love is identifying the signs of meth use, which can include:

  • Unexplained absences for days at a time
  • Crashing for hours upon returning home
  • Rapid speech and eye movement
  • High energy levels
  • Paranoia and talk of conspiracy, including accusations of people listening/watching
  • Talk of government interference, including testing on them
  • Referring to bugs on themselves, on walls or carpet
  • Picking and organizing lint off the carpet or grass off the ground
  • Picking at their face or body (if this is occurring beware of mental deterioration)
  • They get angry and change the subject or play the victim when you ask them about use
  • Dirty fingernails
  • Person is always dirty and smells
  • Injection marks from meth or even heroin (meth users often come down on heroin or fentanyl)

Meth parents have the hardest fight of their lives. They must lift themselves out of poverty, pay for their own rehab, find a place to live, and often address the mental health issues that accompany their drug use. In some cases, meth abusers obtain mental health disorders associated from abuse which becomes part of their lives forever.

If you have identified the signs in your loved one, and believe she may be using meth or any other narcotic during pregnancy, contact your health insurance provider to understand their coverage if she is on your policy or help enroll the mother in Medi-Cali coverage to get the inpatient help she needs right away. Both her and the child’s lives depend on it. Being proactive may allow the child to remain with the mother.

My Other Child was Adopted, and I am Pregnant Again, but Not Using Meth

If you had a meth baby adopted and are pregnant, leave Los Angeles and California if you want to keep your unborn baby even if you have been sober for years. Of the very few people that slowly get their lives together after being meth addicts, they are still at risk of losing other babies.

When sober former meth moms get pregnant again and report to a hospital using public assistance, the trap is already set by DCFS. California hospitals are alerted to any previous adoptions when the mother is delivering. Even if you are sober, this will trigger hospital social workers and a witch hunt. Under Welfare and Institutions Code Section 361.5, the court can immediately place your newborn healthy child up for adoption since you lost a previous child. Defenses exist to prevent this from occurring, but avoiding that trouble is recommended. Do not give your healthy child to DCFS. Get off public assistance or go to another state to have your child.

How Can the Law Offices of Kyle R. Puro Help Me?

At the Law Offices of Kyle R. Puro, our dependency lawyer in Long Beach is a former court-appointed attorney for the Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers, Inc. (LADL) who represented parents involved in the Los Angeles County Foster Care System.

As a court-appointed attorney, he has litigated hundreds of cases involving the abuse and neglect of children and has devoted his life to fighting DCFS, CPS, social workers, minors’ attorneys, and conservative Judges to reunite children with their parents as soon as possible.

If you have tested positive for meth during pregnancy or after the birth of your child, you are going to need help getting the newborn back in your arms.

Contact our experienced Long Beach dependency attorney at the Law Offices of Kyle R. Puro today by calling (562) 653-4583 to schedule a free consultation and learn how you can get your and your baby’s lives back on track.

What Are the Best Tips for Hiring a Family Law Attorney in California?

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At the Law Offices of Kyle R. Puro, our family law attorney in Long Beach, California knows that major life decisions unfold in our office, and none of those personal choices should be left to chance by partnering with a lawyer who is not the right fit for your needs.

Your family lawyer should be your knight in shining armor and not a thorn in your side. Our community is overrun with terrible family law attorneys hustling to make a buck and hurting our residents’ chances of getting the best outcome they deserve.

The best family law lawyers are in Los Angeles, and you can find an amazing lawyer to represent you with diligence, competence, and class. The diversity of cases that Southern California offers makes us the best family law lawyers in the country.

With so many family law attorney options to choose from in Los Angeles County and Orange County, we are committed to providing the resources our community needs to make informed decisions when choosing the best representation for their current and future family needs.

Here are a few tips for finding the right family law attorney for your unique case.

Tip One:

Locate an Attorney Who Exclusively Practices Family Law & Prepare for A Consultation

If your case is brand new (nothing has ever been filed in court), the consultation should be free. If your case is ongoing and papers have been filed, expect to pay at least $100 for the consultation because the lawyer has to dig around and find out how to help you.

When you seek to hire a family law attorney, it is usually when you are stressed out emotionally and things are on the brink. If you are not careful, an attorney will prey on your emotional weakness and gut your savings before you even know the next steps. Different firms have different billing practices and marketing schemes. Make sure you are aware of exactly who and what you are hiring.

The best way to find a family law attorney is through word of mouth. Ask friends, family members, and even coworkers who had a good experience who they recommend. The goal is to find an attorney who will be passionately invested, that has credibility with the court, and the temperament required to guide you through troubled times.

If you do not know anyone who has successfully hired a family law attorney in Long Beach, search the internet for different attorneys in your market, and read their reviews, case studies, and testimonials to get a feel for their experience.

Research the Attorney’s Resume

The best and most ethical family law attorneys spent part of their career in public service. That means that they were district attorneys, public defenders, or worked with a large volume of cases in cooperation with the other side of the legal system at some point throughout their career.

That is where family law attorneys learn the skills required to be creative and think on their feet. A lot of times what you expect to happen in your family law hearing doesn’t matter, so it is important that the lawyer can adjust in real time.

If you happen upon an attorney who practices both criminal and family law, it is probably best to move on. Search for an experienced family law attorney who specializes in only the practice areas that you require representation in.

Familiarity with the Judge & Family Courts

A great test when hiring a family lawyer is asking the lawyer if they are familiar with the judge that you have been assigned. If the lawyer knows nothing about the judge you are assigned, this should raise a red flag. Some judges are newly assigned, so even if the lawyer has not appeared before that judge before, they should be discussing resources to determine how to effectively deal with that judge. Knowing how the judge will analyze your case and their pet peeves is also the starting point to determining your strategy.

Another thing to consider is, some judges that have a track record of ruling unfairly, and our law firm knows all too well that there are real consequences of judicial incompetence.

If the judge you have been assigned is bad news, you need to know that within 10-15 days of receiving notice of the court assignment. Make sure to have this conversation with your lawyer. If they draw a blank when discussing this issue, you will want to move onto a different attorney.

Opposing Counsel Relationship

Another great question to ask is if the lawyer knows or has worked against the opposing counsel during another case. There are some attorneys that we admire and have settled highly complicated matters with over the years. If we know that person is on the case, it makes it a lot easier to meet in the middle.

When this scenario is true, we can cut to the chase, and remove the posturing that delays the case’s resolution to get down to the real issues. You want the lawyer you hire to be able to effectively communicate with opposing counsel and the judge with credibility.

When the opposing attorney has an unsavory reputation, or is flat-out incompetent, it often means that firm will charge more money up-front. Family law lawyers are in the business to make money, and mediocracy is everywhere. Some Los Angeles firms will bill unethical amounts of money to their client, as we have seen time and time again.

We recently went up against one of these firms. It was a simple initial custody motion. The big firm billed the mother $15,000. We charged the father $2,500. We not only won the case but were effectively able to settle of all the issues, so our client could get their life back on track.

Beware of Big Firm Blues

Often, big family law firms want to fight every single issue. They fight and contest unimportant matters and give their clients bad advice, simply to make more money.

The bottom line with larger firms is their overhead comes first, and their clients last.

When clients are unable to pay these large firms right away, they will waste little time in sending your outstanding balance to a collection agency, which can jeopardize your credit and your overall financial standing.

If your ex-spouse or partner has hired a big family law firm, you need to know that right away. Big firm tactics require defensive strategies, which take time to counter, and your attorney’s focus should be on the details that matter. When we are facing the opposing counsel of a big firm, we will construct a unique strategy for each of your needs while your ex-partner feels the crunch from their legal fees.

Usually, family law attorneys work for themselves or small law firms. The more attorneys in the law firm, the more money you are likely to be billed. The nicer the office, the more you are likely to be billed.

Being up front with your lawyer during your initial consultation about how their billing works is a great way to establish trust. There should be a clear understanding of the attorney’s billing practices and how they plan to proceed with your case to avoid any potential drama that should never exist between a lawyer and client.

Strategy/Settlement

Diagnosing your family law issue properly right away and setting a course to resolve it are vital for success. Always ask about your attorney’s strategy to settle your case. On an almost daily basis, we hear judges say to parents that the judge is “a complete stranger and if you do not want a stranger deciding custody of your kids go out in the hallway and settle.”

Upfront discussion about how to settle your case and creating strategies that maximize your chance for settlement needs to happen in any initial consultation. Your family law attorney’s job is to get your case closed as soon as possible, so that you can get back your life back.

In family law, attorneys can represent their clients on a limited scope. That means that instead of paying a retainer agreement and being charged hourly, the client can be charged a flat rate for certain services. The rates are flat and up front and you do not need to worry about hidden fees.

For example, if you are case is only about child custody, it will not generate a lot of paperwork. If you own a business and the case is about determining your assets and ability to pay support, you can expect more paperwork and expenses. The former is a better case for limited scope and the latter would only be taken as attorney of record.

Two different people who are facing divorce will have two uniquely different cases, which must be handled with precision and outlined specifically to that client’s circumstances. Setting objectives from the outset can mean the difference in thousands of dollars and not obtaining a fair custody schedule.

Costs and Scope of Representation

Clients sign a retainer agreement that states the costs associated with the lawyer’s representation. The contract can call for one or two types of representation. Limited Scope Representation or Attorney of Record.

Attorney of Record

The attorney is your attorney until the case resolves, a substitution of attorney is signed, or a motion to be relieved is granted. When applying the attorney of record, it means that every hearing, communication, and contact goes through the lawyer.

Retainers for this representation are charged at an hourly rate. The client makes a down payment for the services to be rendered. For example, let’s say the attorney charges a $5,000 retainer fee, and charges $350 per hour.

The $5,000 is placed in the attorney trust account (bank account) and you are billed by the hour and for expenses. That means that if the attorney is in court for eight hours in one day, it will cost $2,800.00. That leaves you with $2,200.00 left in trust for the case.

If an attorney is only asking for $1,500 or $2,500 for a retainer to be your attorney of record, you should be careful. Read the retainer agreement. If they are billing $300 per hour, it means that money will go fast. That means that the attorney is likely making money off you in collections.

Limited Scope Representation

Lawyers are resourceful tools that produce results, and people hire us to perform a job they need done. Not everyone needs a lawyer to handle their entire case. You may just need the lawyer for one hearing. After that hearing, it is possible that your case can settle or proceed on autopilot.

With limited scope, the client represents themselves other than the appearance or resolution of an issue. Typically, it costs $2,500 for an attorney to set strategy, draft your papers to go to court for one hearing only, get the papers served, get proof of service filed, consult with client, appear in court, and then formalize the order. After that, the client is back on their own. If the orders resolve your issue, you can get back to living your life for a flat rate.

Usually the bigger family law firms do not provide limited scope representation. Another indicator that the client’s best interests often comes after the firm’s financial bottom line.

The same is true for adoptions and families who are dealing with child protective services issues. We’ll talk more about your options when hiring a dependency attorney in our next blog.

Every case requires a customized approach to produce results, so it is important that your family law attorney — who will be your partner throughout the legal process — specializes in your case’s needs. Simply put, you would never hire a business attorney to handle your divorce or a divorce lawyer to help jumpstart your business.

Tip Two: Ask Questions & Give Honest Answers to Those Asked of You

Family law cases are inherently sensitive and personal, which means you will be asked a lot of questions about your home and family life, which may be hard to answer. A family lawyer must know all of the facts. So many times, our clients have withheld information because they are embarrassed about the circumstances, and that can severely hurt you’re their cases.

Keep in mind, the key to your case’s success relies on your honesty. The same is true for your attorney, so do not be afraid to ask questions that help you assess their abilities.

Those questions can include, but are not limited to:

  • Will you be my primary contact? How is the best way to communicate with you? And how long does it take to get a response?
  • What kind of experience do you have in handling cases like mine?
  • How would you describe your approach in (my specific family law) cases?
  • How heavy is your current caseload?
  • How will you inform me of developments in my case?
  • What do you think of my case? What are my chances of succeeding?
  • Do you have adequate resources for my needs, including access to financial specialists, therapists, or other specialists who can build my case?
  • What are the different outcomes possible in this case?
  • Would it be okay if I talked to a former client? Can you give me a referral or provide reviews/testimonials?
  • What is your retainer fee and hourly billing rate? What does that include?
  • Once my case begins, is there a schedule to keep it moving toward resolution?

Once all your questions are answered, ask yourself if your personality meshes with the family law attorney you are interviewing. Their experience isn’t the only factor in achieving success in your case, so it is important that you feel a connection that will allow your partnership to produce results.

Tip Three: Choose an Attorney Who is a Skilled Mediator & Litigator

While many family law cases may successfully conclude outside of the courtroom, your Long Beach attorney must have the experience required to win inside the courtroom when necessary.

Ask your lawyer what training and experience they have had in family law negotiations, mediation, and collaborative law, and if they are prepared to handle your case in court should attempts at settlement fail.

Contact Our Family Law Attorney at the Law Offices of Kyle R. Puro for A Free Consultation Today

If you are searching for a skilled family law attorney in Long Beach, contact the Law Offices of Kyle R. Puro today to schedule a free consultation by calling (562) 653-4583 to learn more about our experience and our approach to developing unique case strategies that allow our clients to thrive going forward.