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How to Get a CPS Case Dismissed Quickly

How to Get a CPS Case Dismissed Quickly

If you’re wondering how to get a CPS case dismissed, your family has probably already experienced that dreaded moment when CPS shows up at your house. I know firsthand just how jarring and traumatic that experience can be.

Most parents are filled with fear and dread when Child Protective Services appears. Even if you’re a good parent with nothing to hide, the mere accusation of abuse or wrongdoing can be unsettling. Having an open case against you can be very unnerving.

Although I am not a lawyer, I do have extensive experience with CPS. I have been investigated 5 times in the 16 years that I’ve been a parent. I’ve consulted with several attorneys. Of course, I’ve also been a professional researcher and resource specialist here at Low Income Relief for almost 10 years.

6 Steps to Get a CPS Case Dismissed

Step 1: Stay Calm

The first and perhaps most important step to getting your case dismissed is to STAY CALM. If you get worked up easily or explode with anger, you will only give them more reason to investigate you closely.

There may be legitimate reasons for you to be upset. I’ve been the victim of malicious reports and I know how much it hurts. Often, these events coincided with other deeply stressful and traumatic events in my life, such as family estrangement or when the ceiling collapsed in our rental. I was already stressed out and seeing CPS at the door only made me more stressed.

However, you have to remember that the professionals at Child Protective Services are there to help children stay safe. They care about the welfare of children and the safety of your family. They aren’t there to traumatize you or steal your children. You can’t take your pent-up anger or frustration out on them and expect your case to resolve amicably.

It is critically important that all of your communication with CPS remain respectful, calm and reasonable. Always remember that anything you say or do can be used against you in court.

Step 2: Understand the Allegations

Before you can work on getting a CPS case dismissed, you need to understand exactly why the case was opened in the first place.

Child Protective Services exists to protect children from physical, emotional, sexual or other abuse and neglect. When someone makes a credible report to Child Protective Services, the agency is obligated to follow up on that report.

Because the reporter’s identity is kept anonymous, you may not know who reported you. However, you do have the right to know what was reported. Sometimes, caseworkers will not offer this information freely and you may have to ask what the specific allegations are.

The most common reasons why CPS are called include neglect (61%) and physical abuse (10.3%). However, accusations of neglect can vary widely and include physical neglect, medical neglect, environmental neglect, emotional neglect, inadequate supervision and other specific allegations.

Gaining a thorough understanding of the accusations against you is the first step in how to get a CPS case dismissed.

Step 3: Understand the Potential Outcomes

As explained previously, Child Protective Services is obligated to investigate every credible report of abuse or neglect. Sometimes, these reports are completely unfounded and malicious. Sometimes, unfortunately, they are very accurate.

CPS investigations typically end in one of these outcomes:

  • CPS decides that the abuse or neglect has not occurred. The case is closed without further intervention. It is marked unsubstantiated or unfounded.
  • CPS decides that the abuse or neglect has not occurred but the family needs certain services. With parental approval, the case is kept open for voluntary services. The allegations of abuse are still considered unsubstantiated or unfounded.
  • CPS decides that the abuse or neglect did occur but the child can remain safely in the home. The parents will be asked to participate in a safety plan and the case will remain open.
  • CPS decides that the abuse or neglect did occur and the child is in danger. CPS will remove the child from the home and place the child into protective custody. The parents will be required to participate in the ongoing case in order to be reunited with their children.

In the vast majority of cases, the answer to how to get a CPS case dismissed is to simply wait. That’s because the case will be closed without further intervention if the allegations cannot be proven. According to Kelley Fong of the Georgia Institute of Technology, “Nationwide, the vast majority of reports (over 80 percent) are deemed unfounded by CPS.”

As previously stated, I’ve been investigated by CPS five times in the 16 years that I’ve been a parent. Almost every complaint was made maliciously and I was able to identify who had called based on the nature and timing of the report. In each of these incidences, the case resolved as soon as we were visited because the caseworker could clearly identify that the report was false (for example, we were reported for having animal feces around our house when we didn’t even own a pet).

What if your case is unfounded or unsubstantiated?

In 80% of cases, you don’t need to do anything to figure out how to get a CPS case dismissed. That’s because 4 out of 5 reports are determined to be unfounded or unsubstantiated. That means that CPS recognizes that the alleged abuse or neglect did not occur.

If your case is determined to be unfounded, the case will close automatically and you won’t have to do anything. CPS can dismiss your case at any time if they feel the child is in no real danger.

What if your case is substantiated?

In the rare event that CPS determines the alleged abuse or neglect did occur, then there are two potential outcomes. If the child is safe in the home, the family will stay together but the family will be required to participate in a safety and case plan. If the child is not safe in the home, CPS can remove that child from the home and place them in protective care.

If either of these things happen, it is possible that the case could escalate to Family Court. If there are criminal charges involved and/or the child is removed, it will likely escalate to court. If the child remains in the home, it may be possible that you may be able to avoid going to court by cooperating with CPS on the family and safety plans.

Sometimes, the plans may include things like completing certain home repairs, attending parenting classes, passing drug tests, participating in individual or family counseling or attending substance abuse treatment. If you fail to cooperate or complete these interventions, then it may strengthen the case against you.

Step 4: Consult with a Competent Legal Professional

If CPS determines that the alleged abuse or neglect did occur, then you will benefit from consulting with a competent legal professional. There are three ways that you may be able to consult with an attorney if you cannot afford one:

Depending on the nature of the allegations against you, it may be helpful to consult with more than one attorney. It is likely in your best interest to hire an attorney that you can work closely with if you are being accused of a crime and/or if your children if have been removed from your home.

Step 5: Prepare for Court

If CPS files a lawsuit against you, then it’s a little harder to figure out how to get a CPS case dismissed. You will have to attend court hearings. At this point, it is extremely important to have a lawyer present to assist you with your case. You cannot afford to make mistakes at this point, because it could jeopardize your ability to reunite with your child.

A CPS case can last up to a year or longer depending on the nature of the accusations. Typically, the timeline looks something like this:

  • Day 1: CPS shows up at your house
  • Day 14: Initial Hearing
  • Day 60: Status Hearing
  • Day 180: Initial Permanency Hearing
  • Day 270: Permanency Hearing
  • Day 360: Trial, dismissal, or extension
  • Day 540: Trial, dismissal, or monitoring extension
  • Day 720: Trial or dismissal

A court ruling can bring about many different outcomes, including but not limited to:

  • ordering an abusive member out of the household
  • appointing a guardian for the children
  • ordering child support
  • removing the children from the home
  • terminating parental rights
  • dismissing the case

This is obviously a long and difficult process with significant consequences for the family, so it is very beneficial to be guided by a competent attorney throughout the case.

Step 6: File for Dismissal

A dismissal can occur at any time during your CPS investigation. It can be dismissed by CPS if they feel like the child is not in any real danger. It can also be dismissed by a judge if CPS fails to provide enough evidence to prove that the alleged abuse or neglect actually occurred.

As stated previously, a CPS case will be automatically dismissed if the initial report is unfounded or unsubstantiated. CPS can also dismiss the case at any time if they feel the child is not in danger.

If the matter escalates to court, you can file dismissal paperwork immediately if you have enough evidence to dispute the accusations or demonstrate that you were falsely accused. Any dismissal paperwork should be carefully prepared, extremely accurate, and state relevant reasons for the dismissal. It should not be an emotional argument; it must rely on facts.

If you decide to prepare dismissal paperwork, talking to an attorney can be extremely beneficial. I highly recommend having a lawyer help you prepare your dismissal paperwork.

How to Get a CPS Case Dismissed Fast

Of course, any reasonable parent wants to get the nightmare of a CPS investigation over as quickly as possible. These tips can help you resolve the matter quickly.

Remember your rights when it comes to CPS.

Although you do not have to let CPS into your house unless they have a warrant, it is advisable to let them see the children immediately. When CPS showed up at my house, we brought each child to the door so CPS could see that they were safe. We scheduled a more in-depth visit for a few days later. However, making sure that she saw the children before she left helped alleviate some of the concerns.

Ask about the allegations immediately.

You have the right to know the allegations against you but the caseworker may not be forthcoming. I once had to call a supervisor before I could get information about the allegations against me. If the caseworker is not cooperative and will not provide this information, wait for them to leave and then call their supervisor. Continue up the line of authority until someone will clearly explain what the accusations are.

Prepare any relevant documentation.

As soon as you know the allegations against you, you can begin to prepare a defense. The nature of the documentation you gather should be relevant to the accusations against you. For example, if you are accused of environmental neglect, you may benefit from having photos of your home at different points in time.

Regardless of the accusations, it can be helpful to gather supportive statements from others who have visited your home or witnessed your parenting. I always focus on gathering supportive statements from people who are mandated reporters, like child care providers and teachers, because these often have more authority than statements from ordinary people.

Carefully read any agreements you sign.

You need to carefully read and understand any documentation that you sign. Sometimes, you may be pressed to sign agreements that are not required. Other times, you may sign things that require you to participate in certain interventions (like home repairs or therapy) and you could be held accountable if you fail to complete the things you’ve agreed to do. Before you sign anything, make sure you thoroughly understand the implications of what you’re signing.

Keep any documentation that you receive.

If the CPS report closes and is determined to be unfounded, you should receive a letter that you can save for your records. If the case escalates, you should save that documentation as well. You should receive a letter describing the outcome of your case within 90 days of the end of the investigation.

Nicole leads the Low Income Relief team with over 20 years of professional research and writing experience. Nicole started Low Income Relief after a personal experience with poverty. When her husband was medically discharged from the US Army, their family experienced tremendous financial hardship. Nicole was able to gather help from multiple community agencies and move into a nearby low income housing unit in just two weeks! Since then, Nicole has been dedicated to helping low income families in crisis. She regularly spends hundreds of hours combing through countless resources to make sure that Low Income Relief has the most comprehensive and complete resource directories on the internet today. Prior to starting Low Income Relief, Nicole worked as a novelist, journalist, ghostwriter and content creator. Her work has been featured in various print and online publications, including USA Today, eHow, Livestrong, Legal Beagle, The Daily Herald, The Chronicle and more.


Tuesday 4th of October 2022

What if the case was “founded” and they did not require classes or take any action due to 3 letters I provided from our pastor counselors. I didn’t see that as an option. We want to appeal this decision against my husband but was suggested to wait until hopefully the criminal case is dismissed. Will we have to go to court for this appeal? Is the criminal dismissal enough to dismiss the CPS finding? The case worker said it would be but now I’ve heard otherwise. He stated “finding “ solely based on the police report and found nothing with my kids or house. If I appeal, will they try to talk with my children again? Is it like reopening it?

thomas lewis

Saturday 12th of November 2022

@Catherine Marucci, What do you do if they have your child and they state you have no allegations at all and you are a non offending parent what than because that is what is happening to us. No allegations or accusations but they are still keeping the child cannot find any information on what to do and how to get a case dismissed with no allegations.

Catherine Marucci

Tuesday 4th of October 2022

There is no easy answer to that one. There are a lot of variables. A lawyer may be your best source of advice.