How The System Works - By William O. Tower, President
- HOW THE SYSTEM WORKSBy William O. Tower, PresidentAmerican Family Rights Association
First thing to remember is through out this entire process you only have
(3) three times to have a TRIAL, AND ONLY THREE.
Another thing to remember is that if the child is 3 or under they can
move for TPR in 6 months.
1. Detention hearing (72 hours after the taking of children)
2. Jurisdiction hearing (30days after the taking of children)
3. Termination of Parental Rights hearing. (15 months after the taking
of children or if the child is 3 or under 6 months to TPR.)
1. First one is after they take children you have the detention hearing
that is usually within 72 judicial hours. That is why children are
normally taken on a Thursday or Friday giving the Dept till Tuesday to
hold the first hearing. This gives them more time to put their case
together and more time to work on the children. Don't waste time, you
need to get a good attorney or someone that will help explain how this
all works. If you go with the court appointed attorney tell him if you
are innocent and demand a trial at this hearing. Usually the court
appointed attorney will meet with you 5-10 minutes before court and
tell you "just agree with this one and we will catch up with it at the
next hearing in 30 days and that will give us time to prepare a defense,
(DO NOT believe this) Demand a trial at this hearing. You are entitled
to have a trial at this time. They will tell you that" if you fight this
hearing, that all the dept has put on paper to the court will become
legal fact," don't fall for this one, it is all ready fact as far as the
court is concerned. So fight it with all you have. [note] This is where
you have the best chance of beating them as they are not ready for a
trial and they don't have a case yet, (not enough time to put it
together). Best time to push and win the children back. This is the only
time you will get to dispute what they have done on paper for this
hearing. If you don't fight, it will become (resjudicarta) all ready
dealt with and you can not bring it up again. It has been made legal
fact. "Done deal". So demand a trial. (Did I day that before?) If you
agree to this hearing they will beat you to death with it and say that
you admitted guilt and now need to get with the case plan.
1. Do not agree to a deal. (unless you are guilty of what they are saying)
2. Do not let your attorney stipulate to the court on your behalf. (MAKE
YOUR ATTORNEY EXPLAIN WHAT THIS MEANS )
3. Do not state to the court that you understand what is happening, make
them spell it out. You will not look stupid for doing this as most
attorneys don't understand it all no matter what they say.
4. If your attorney does not defend you, ask for a new one that will.
5. If they hold your children (as they usually do) make sure visitation
is ordered by the court and have the court spell it out, do not let the
court leave it up to the caseworker. They will not let you see your
children as they still need to work on them to get what they want.
6. Make sure that your Attorney does not allow the court and or the dept
run the dispositional and jurisdictional hearings together make them
separate them. No good can come of running them together as the facts
will get run together in the court and they won't be able to separate
them legally themselves.
2. Second hearing is called the "Jurisdiction Hearing" This is the
second time you are entitled to a trial. If you are innocent use this as
the second "bite at the apple" time to get your story heard. It is
extremely important to do this at this Trial, (notice I use the word
Trial) Fight this one hard and win. Make the attorney work and do what
is right. They will tell you that: you don't have a chance look at what
is in the paperwork, the only thing to do is cut a deal, they will also
tell you that what the dept is offering is a great deal, Don't believe
it. Now is the time to fight or settle in for the long haul. You choose
which you want to do. You need to win this one.
If you win, the children come home, case closed. Do not do anything to
pop up on their radar screen. (stay away from them) I.e.: Do Not sign up
for welfare benefits, Medicaid, food stamps, or any other services they
offer. Stay away from them and their services. Also watch out for
mandated reporters. I.e. Doctors, schools, ETC.
If you lose the jurisdiction trial, you have nothing to do but comply
with the case plan. "You are in the system" settle in for the long haul
as now you get a "Review" every six (6) months. Do what the case plan
says as soon as possible and then ask the worker for more. Comply,
Comply, Comply, always remember it is about the children. The fight here
is get the children back forget about any federal suit at this time,
work on getting the children back. That is the mission here. If they ask
you to do a parenting class, do three or four, if they send you to
therapy, talk about how this is affecting your children, not you. This
is not about you. Remember this it is not about you. It all about your
If at the 6 month hearing you do not get your children back, start the
case plan over and do more things and services. The one's you did before
the 6 month review have been used and now you need to start again.
Comply, Comply, And Comply.
3. Now we are down to the (TPR) Termination of Parental Rights. By this
time your children have been in the system for 15-16 months. You are
tired of the battle and broke. Things look grim and almost lost. Do Not
give up, your children are stake here. This is the third time you have a
right to a trial. Make it a good one. If you lose this one your children
are gone and the only thing you have left is an appeal. This is almost
always lost. Make sure you have done every thing the court has asked you
to do. Make the attorney put enough on the record to give you good
appeal issues. Then use them.
This is not to be taken for legal advice, just as good
advice/information. You will need an Attorney to get Legal advice.