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Hi Brandon. Thanks for taking the time to help me.
My pleasure. Thank you for your question.
I'd like to start with something you said. You said "Obviously I need to cooperate... but how do I proceed?" To be straightforward, it's not so obvious that you want to cooperate. Under ordinary circumstances, a parent will not want to cooperate with an investigation by the Department of Family Services.
DFS is currently conducting an investigation. The purpose of the investigation is to collect evidence to justify intervening to the extent that they believe is appropriate.
I light straightforward .. keep it coming!
You're not the parent. You are the lying, reckless drug addict who is endangering her own children. Anything you say can and likely will be used against you.
It's actually a really good thing that you're asking these questions now. This is the easiest point to change the direction of your case and get the best outcome possible.
I am terrified. My kids are the most important thing to me.
Frankly, the best thing that you can do from both a legal and strategic standpoint is to have all communications to DFS or any other governmental agency go through an attorney. This will ensure not only that your legal interests are protected and that you say the right things, but first that any statements cannot be used against you in court and second that you don't alienate the investigator through non-communication. It's generally better that the parent does not give up the evidence and alienates the investigator than to give up the evidence and make friends with someone who is trying to prove that you aren't a fit parent, but you would ideally want to protect yourself without rubbing anyone the wrong way.
It sounds like you had a reaction with the Xanax and the alcohol. Typically, you would have to do much worse to lose your kids... MUCH worse. But you don't want DFS in your life. You don't want to have to attend court hearings, or court ordered counseling, or have to worry about living outside the home until you've proven yourself, or any number of grossly inconvenient things that can occur in a DFS case.
The expression is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In these matters, that statement couldn't be more true.
What kind of lawyer should I retain? Is it classified under family law?
Yes, the Xanax and the alcohol had an adverse reaction. I do not want DFS in my life. I'm a good parent. My children are my priority.
This field of law is called juvenile dependency law. There are lawyers who practice juvenile dependency law, but if you can't find someone on your own, most family lawyers will either include it as a component of their practice or be able to refer you to someone who practices it. In which Virginia County is this occurring?
Ok, just one moment please.
I am going to refer you to two sources. First, is this document: http://www.loudoun.gov/documents/16/Legal%20Aid%20Referral%20Services_1.pdf
Second, I am going to refer you directly to the Loudoun County Bar Association's President: Penn Bain, 703.777.0242.
I can't say that Mr. Bain is able to refer you to someone, but I'm giving you his information in case you can't find someone through the first link.
Ok. Thank you. XXXXX have found counsel, How should I expect them to proceed?
They will likely interview you and then want to manage your communications with DFS. Hopefully, that will be the extent of the involvement that will be needed.
would it be prudent to ask my doctors to start drafting their letters? Should I expect the attorney to come to the DFS meeting with me?
Those are questions of strategy, and because every case is different, this information should not be construed as complete or advice without consulting in person with legal counsel. That said, it would ordinarily serve no purpose to have anyone start formulating any sort of written documentation unless it is favorable and the witness' future availability is in question. I would expect that the attorney would not have you meet with DFS at all. It might be necessary to give or receive some communications with DFS, and the attorney's primary function would be to make and receive those communications on your behalf.
O .. Ok. I assumed I would have to meet with them. So glad I asked. and that makes sense regarding the written documentation.
Thank you for your time tonight
and for all the information
My pleasure. Did you have any other question?
You have a crystal ball? I'd like to know my outcome!
No Sir, I do not. Thank you.
Well, I can't help you much there, but I can tell you that this could have happened with a heroin needle stuck in your arm and you could still get your kids back. Although every situation is different, you're taking some positive steps to help minimize DFS's involvement in your family's life. You just need to know that DFS can only act without the court if there is an emergency, and even then it is extremely temporary. For most everything, they have to get a court's order, which is why it's important to view any information that you give out as potential evidence.
There's a right to remain silent, and that right is designed to protect the innocent. Normally, a parent will want to exercise that right to remain silent, so it's important to have an attorney guide and assist at this critical stage of the process. What happens now could have a significant impact on how inconvenienced and distressed you are in the future, even if you're not at high-risk for losing your kids.
So my crystal ball says that one way or another, this will all be water under the bridge 12 months from now, but you still want to be proactive to ensure that you get the best outcome possible.
I like your crystal ball. Thanks so much Brian! Have a nice evening!
My pleasure, and I wish you the best.