DSS may come into your life for multiple reasons. Sometimes it is for a good reason and sometimes it is completely frivolous. When it comes to having your children removed from by DSS it can be a very distressing situation. Regardless of the reason for the removal of your children the Family Court must hold a probable cause hearing within 72 hours to determine if DSS had probable cause or a good enough reason to remove your children.
At this hearing, DSS generally has the upper hand. In almost all cases, defendants are not represented by an attorney at this hearing and they have no idea why they are in court, what has happened to their children and what they have to do to get their children back. At the probable cause hearing, DSS will call witnesses and attempt to prove their case while you will not be allowed to testify. You will have an opportunity cross-examine the DSS witnesses and you will be able to submit affidavits to the court supporting your situation.
If you are unrepresented at this hearing and are unable to afford an attorney to represent you, the family court will appoint an attorney to represent you. This is great, except that not all attorneys that are on the appointment list handle family court and DSS matters. You may get an attorney who makes it his goal in life to stay away from a court room. A guardian ad litem will also be appointed to represent your children and to perform an investigation for the Court with their mind set on determining what is in the best interest of the children.
I would recommend that if your children have been taken from you by DSS you should immediately contact an attorney who is experienced in representing people in DSS matters. There are strict time lines and regulations that DSS must comply with and if they don’t it can help your case. Only an experienced professional will know these things. You should not go to a probable cause hearing unrepresented if you can help it.