Emergency Removal – Child Protection Services
When a CPS worker alleges that a child may be harmed, if he or she remains in the custody of a parent, the CPS worker can ask a Family Court Judge to issue an emergency ex parte (without notice) order allowing the CPS worker to seize your child and place him or her in foster care or with a relative. This is some times referred to as “protective custody”. The emergency removal will normally be completed by a CPS worker along with a police officer, but the court may authorize the removal by a CPS worker, a police officer, or any other person deemed suitable. MCR 3.963(B)(1)
Before the court authorizes a removal, it is supposed to make a determination that there is a “reasonable cause to believe that the child is at substantial risk of harm or is in surroundings that present an imminent risk of harm and the child’s immediate removal from those surroundings is necessary to protect the child.” The court should also inquire whether reasonable efforts were made by the Department of Human Services to “prevent or eliminate the need for removal of the child.” MCR 3.963(B)
When a court allows a Child Protection Services worker to remove a child from his or her home, the preference is to place the child with a noncustodial parent or relative. See the DHS Children’s
Protective Services Manual, Removal and Placement of Children PSM 715-2, p 7. In determining whether to place your child with a relative, CPS is supposed to conduct a criminal history check and a central registry check.
Unfortunately, we frequently see cases where children are removed on flimsy evidence, patently false allegations, or before CPS has taken the appropriate steps to avoid the need to remove the child.
When a child is removed on an ex parte basis, you are entitled to an preliminary hearing within 24 hours of the child’s removal. If your child has been removed from your custody or if a CPS worker is threatening to do so, you should contact a qualified CPS lawyer immediately.