But I’m Their Mother! They Need Me!

mothers and dssI cannot begin to count the times that I have heard a client (usually the mother) say, “How can DSS take my children from me?  I am their mother.  They need me!”  And I usually agree.

They do need their mother.  And quickly, or irreparable harm can come from extended separation.  A primary concern of child welfare advocates (and mine) is the separation anxiety that children always feel when they are taken into emergency protective custody by DSS.  I can help you get the children back, or at least out of foster care and into the home of a familiar relative, by petitioning the court to order DSS to develop a reasonable treatment plan for you and for your child, and by monitoring your progress through the court-ordered treatment program.

I have always said that the job of the DSS attorney often seems to be too easy.  The burden of proof, except to terminate parental rights, is a mere preponderance of the evidence.  An example that I like to use is compare this burden with the burden of tipping a pencil that is balanced on its point toward a finding of abuse or neglect.  Pretty easy.  And on top of that, because there are no jury trials in family court, there are not twelve people to convince, but only one – the judge.  And the judge, if he makes an error of judgment, will be predisposed to err in favor of the child.

Often an inexperienced, misinformed or even incompetent caseworker will ask you to submit to evaluations that are not reasonably expected to provide relevant recommendations.  Other times, you may be asked to undergo treatment where there is no evidence that the specific treatment is even called for.  For example, DSS may ask you to undergo a drug test where there are no indications of substance abuse.  Or you may be asked to submit to a second psychological evaluation after completing the services recommended by a prior evaluation.

You want to make sure that there is someone with experience and knowhow on your side to oversee DSS and the treatment process and to give you proper advice, if it appears that DSS is not following the rules.

With 24 years experience in family court and 6 years experience representing DSS as its child abuse attorney, I can help you speed the return of your children to you by forcing DSS to present you with a reasonable treatment plan that addresses only the real issues in your case and by advising you so that you can make steady and appropriate progress toward your treatment goals.

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Graves H. Wilson, Jr. worked as a staff attorney for the South Carolina Department of Social Services in Dorchester County, South Carolina from 2005 to 2011. He now represents clients involved in DSS cases--parents, grandparents, or other interested parties. He practices state-wide and accepts cases in all South Carolina counties.

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