Children in Need of Services (CHINS) Actions

CHINS actions involve claims that a child has been abused or neglected. Our Indianapolis family law attorneys have considerable experience in the “child welfare” system and are prepared to assist parents and guardians who have been named as defendants in a CHINS petition in Indiana. We also help foster parents who want to insure that their interests, as well as the interests of the children placed with them, are considered during these complicated legal proceedings.

Any person who believes that a minor child is being abused or neglected has a duty to report to government authorities the suspected abuse or neglect. In Indiana, suspected abuse or neglect is reported by calling 1-800-800-5556. The government then has an obligation to investigate the allegation. If the government determines that a child’s physical or mental health is seriously endangered, the government can initiate a Child In Need of Services (CHINS) action. The prosecuting attorney or attorney for the county office of the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) is responsible for filing the CHINS petition in juvenile court.

A child may be detained or removed from his home prior to a CHINS petition being filed. Once a CHINS petition is filed, the juvenile court will hold an initial hearing and will appoint a Guardian Ad Litem (“GAL”) or Court Appointed Special Advocate (“CASA”) to represent the child’s interests in the CHINS proceeding. Parents or caregivers, at that time, can admit the allegations in the CHINS petition or deny the same. After the DCS has completed its investigation of the CHINS allegations, the court will hold a “fact-finding” hearing to determine if the allegations in the CHINS petition are true. At this hearing, the child’s parent or legal guardian will have an opportunity to defend against the allegations of abuse or neglect. If the court finds that the allegations are true, the court then will hold a “dispositional” hearing, at which the court will consider options and recommendations for the plan of care and treatment of the child, and any services for the child’s parent or guardian.

Under certain circumstances, a child subject to a CHINS action may be removed from his or her home and placed in temporary custody by the local child protection service. A court should consider placing the child in the custody of a relative caretaker prior to considering any other out-of-home placement. However, placement with a relative is not mandatory.

If a parent does not correct the behavior or circumstances that caused the removal of the children from his/her care, DCS may file a request with the court that the rights of that parent be terminated. There are certain circumstances in which DCS is required to file a request to terminate parental rights. A hearing is held that would allow the parent(s) to challenge the termination of rights. If the court hears sufficient evidence to terminate the rights of a parent, that parent no longer has any ability to determine care of the child or spend time with the child. Those rights cannot be re-established. After the termination of parental rights, the child is eligible for adoption by the relative caregiver, foster parent, or other third parties.

In certain circumstances, parents adopting children who had been removed from their parents by DCS may be eligible for financial assistance with the child’s expenses and reimbursement of attorney fees for the adoption.

CHINS and termination proceedings are complex and can be emotionally exhausting. Our Indiana family law attorneys have successfully represented parents and guardians in these proceedings, and are prepared to assist those who have been named as a respondent in a CHINS action.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation about Children In Need Of Services (CHINS) Actions in Central  Indiana!

The family law attorneys at Broyles Kight & Ricafort, P.C. have considerable experience in the “child welfare” system. We are prepared to assist parents and guardians who have been named as defendants in a CHINS petition in Indiana, as well as foster parents who want to insure that their interests (as well as the interests of the children placed with them) are considered during these complicated legal proceedings. We have successfully represented parents and guardians in CHINS and termination proceedings as well as those who have been named as a respondent in a CHINS action. To schedule a consultation with one of BKR’s experienced family law attorneys in Indianapolis, Indiana, call 317-571-3601.