If you have court-ordered, supervised parenting time or visitation, it probably means things are not going very well in a pending case. What follows on this page is some general guidance we give to our Michigan CPS clients. Your objective is to make court-ordered, supervised parenting time a very temporary situation. With the assistance of your attorney, you should be able to develop a plan to move you away from supervised parenting time and toward unsupervised parenting time. Generally, when you have a court case going on, parenting time is restricted in a number of ways, such as frequency, length of visit, location and types of activities allowed. What you are trying to accomplish is to ease and, over time, eliminate those restrictions. So how do you do that?
Understanding Parenting Time Realities
The first thing you need to do is have a good understanding of the process you are going through. Parents sometimes treat a supervised visit as a hostile environment; and it can be. I find that when a case is pending in the court system, supervision can be a very difficult experience for both parent and child. The parent can make this much better most of the time just by approaching it with a good understanding about what is going on.
Planning for Supervised Parenting Time
I often tell my clients that the biggest assignment they have when their case is pending is to make sure the parenting time goes well. Tips to consider:
- Plan the visit: Don't just show up. Think about what you would like to do during your visit and think about what would make the visit a pleasant experience. This is an extremely important event for you, your child and the case. Remember the old saying: “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Don’t make that mistake.
- Bring appropriate things with you: Even when you have an aggressive DHHS worker supervising your visit, it is good to tell them in advance what you would like to bring with you and make sure they approve. Find out if it is O.K. to bring food or snacks, games, toys, etc.
- Be on time: Even a good excuse for being late will probably fall flat in court. And it's also likely to be discussed by the attorneys and the judge over and over again. Plan your life around the parenting time. Leave enough time to get a shower, put on clean clothes, gather up everything that you packed the night before, get around the traffic jam and still arrive 10 minutes early. Everyone who looks at your case will know you are serious about good parenting when you always arrive early.
- Plan your attitude: It may not surprise you to know there are people who hate CPS, who hate any interference with their parental rights, and who hate the idea of a hostile person watching everything they do. It is not your job to fight CPS; that is my job. Your job is make sure this parenting time goes well. To do that, you will need to leave any bad vibes at home. Let your attorney fight with CPS if necessary.
- Plan to be humble: If you find yourself getting guidance or correction from a parenting time supervisor, be humble. It is not a bad idea to thank them for the input. Remember the big picture: You are here to do whatever is necessary to get your kids home and get the government out of your life. If that means you need to politely take advice from a young social worker just out of college with no kids, so be it.
Parenting in the Spotlight
Many DHHS offices and other agency facilities have two-way mirrors or live video feeds that allow caseworkers, prosecutors, CPS supervisors and even police to monitor your activities. This means there is usually going to be someone watching or listening from behind the mirror or on a video monitor. Assume these people are looking for fault. Be on your best behavior and keep the environment positive. Sometimes, kids don’t respond well to the environment. This is not like their home, and you need to be prepared to attend to their needs in this environment even if it is difficult. If you have more than one child in the visit, try to plan things you can do with all of them. Try not to focus all of your attention on one child. Come prepared to change diapers, clean up spilled drinks, wipe dirty faces and console an upset child. Remember that DHHS workers are going to frown on parents losing their temper or using any kind of corporal punishment.
Don’t Talk About Your Case
If your child wants to talk about your case, try to redirect the conversation. This is not the time or place to discuss the ongoing litigation, and doing so may set back the progress you've made. It may also cause an interruption because some supervisors will pull you out of the room and admonish you. Sometimes, a caseworker will come in during your visit and try to get you to sign a document or deal with the schedule. In some instances, this may be unavoidable, but it should not become a habit. You can always politely ask if this is something that can be talked about privately when the parenting time is over.
Ask for Feedback
When I have a client doing supervised parenting time, I may send an email to the supervisor and ask if there were any problems or concerns. I then invite the worker to let me know if there are any directions I should be giving my client about the parenting time activities. This does not necessarily mean we are not going to fight when we go to court, but it can make it so we have less to fight about.
Hire the Best Lansing CPS Defense Attorney You Can
It is difficult for many parents to let someone else fight their battles for them. It is even harder when the lawyer does not seem up to the challenge. Cronkright Law has helped many, many parents through this difficult process. We can help you figure out when to fight CPS, how to fight CPS and how to pick your battles. We can also help you gain a better understanding of the process you are going through. In addition, we can help you develop strategies designed to get your children home even when the deck seems to be stacked against you. We offer free consultations. If we can help your family, it would be an honor.
You can call a Lansing CPS lawyer at our office 24/7, 365 days a year or use the contact form. We have handled CPS-related cases in Lansing, Mt. Pleasant, Midland, Howell, Detroit, Flint, Kalamazoo, Jackson and throughout Michigan.