December 8, 2008 – By Linda Martin
You all have notebooks, right?
Is your notebook up to date?
A notebook, preferably spiral bound or a legal tablet is a handy place to keep a running record of everything that happens in your CPS case. The caseworkers are keeping notes on you in the case narratives section of the case file. You should be keeping notes on the caseworkers. You should have a record of every contact that occurs during the course of your CPS case.
What can you put in your case notebook?
⇒ facts on the case (what really happened)
⇒ notes on every phone call
⇒ notes on every meeting
⇒ notes on every visitation
⇒ contacts with expert witnesses (you NEED them!)
⇒ notes about the court hearings
⇒ notes on anything out of the ordinary that happens
⇒ counseling appointment notes
⇒ notes about the psychological evaluation
⇒ a record of all drug tests and results
⇒ reminders about the date of the next hearing
⇒ visitation notes
⇒ foster parent names and contact information if you have it
⇒ notes on all contacts or attempted contacts with your lawyer
⇒ notes on your daily activities
About this last item – it is helpful to have a running record of where you were and what you were doing at all times in case something happens such as what happened to me during my last CPS court appearance, which was way back in 1990. More than eighteen years ago! I was in court for the six-month hearing and was informed when I got there that my child’s paternal grandmother had accused me of being with her son, which in my case was a bad thing because the case was based on him battering me. I was there to tell the court he was no longer in my life and that my child would be safe with me.
Apparently, she claimed that her two youngest children had seen me riding with him on a moped a few days earlier. This was totally untrue but she had the accusers write statements for the court saying they’d seen me with him. The court postponed the hearing for another day and that gave me the opportunity to write a declaration (affidavit) explaining where I’d been at the time the younger siblings said they’d seen me with their older brother. I also got a supporting declaration from the person I’d actually been with. Fortunately I knew exactly where I’d been at the time, and the court was convinced I was telling the truth.
This is just one example of how an ongoing, frequently updated case notebook could save your family