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CHINS: What Is It And What Are Parents Rights

Published in Family Law on October 1, 2015.

Every parent has the right to raise their child in a way that they see fit. The United States Constitution grants this protection.  The 14th Amendment specifically guarantees this right. However, the government still has the right to intervene if someone brings allegations of abuse or neglect. If you have been contacted by Child Protected Services (CPS) or are already involved with a “Child In Need Of Services” (CHINS) action brought by the Department of Child Services (DCS), it is important to be aware of what your rights are and to have an experienced attorney by your side through the entire process.

What is CHINS?

Indiana Code 31-34-1-1 through 31-34-1-11 provide the elements that must be shown in order to establish that a child is a CHINS. The basic elements of a CHINS case require a showing of the following:

  1. Child is under 18 years old;
  2. Parents have seriously impaired or seriously endangered the child’s well-being;
  3. Impairment or endangerment was the result of an inability, refusal, or neglect by the child’s parent, guardian, or custodian to supply the child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, or supervision; and
  4. The child needs care, treatment, or rehabilitation that the child is not receiving. It also must be unlikely that the parents will provide without the coercive intervention of the court.

Ind. Code 31-34-1-2 through 31-34-1-11 include ten other statutory CHINS circumstances. However, each carry a common theme: the child has a need that the parent, custodian, or guardian is not attending to and will not without court intervention. This includes failure to provide medical treatment for a child, manufacturing illegal drugs on the property where the child resides, if the child is a victim of a sex offense, or if the child is born testing positive for illegal drugs or is born with fetal alcohol syndrome.

Parents Rights When Dealing with DCS in Indiana

If the state serves you a CHINs notice or removes your child from your home, you have rights. Each of these rights are statutory. DCS must inform you of them in writing when they file a petition or remove your child.

  1. The right to have a detention hearing held by a court within 48 hours after the child’s removal from the home and the right to request the return of the child at such hearing.
  2. Right to be represented by an attorney at each court proceeding on the CHINS petition.
  3. The right to cross-examine witnesses at each court proceeding on the CHINS petition.The right to present evidence on your own behalf at each court proceeding on the CHINS petition.
  4. Right not to make incriminating statements. This is important because any incriminating statement made by you can be used at any court proceeding on the CHINS petition.
  5. The right to request to have the case revied by the child protection team under Ind. Code 31-33-3-6.
  6. The right to be advised that a petition to terminate the part-child relationship must be filed whenever a child has been removed from the child’s parent and has been under the supervision of DCS for at least fifteen (15) of the last twenty-two (22) months.

DCS must inform you of these rights when they remove the child from the home or when they file the petition alleging CHINS with the court, whichever happens earlier.

It is important to be aware of these rights and to have an advocate on your side who knows how to navigate the sometimes confusing CHINS process. At Eskew Law, we protect your rights. We will help you get through the painful CHINS process. That way you can get your life back to normal as quickly as the process will allow.


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