This blog may sound like I’m bashing Arkansas DHS or suggesting that they don’t do their best to help in child custody emergencies. It’s not. DHS is very important; it just may not be the right fit for your own case.
We live (thankfully) in a time where we can usually depend on the government if there is a real emergency. If a tornado destroys your community, you can get help. If someone breaks into your house, you can get help. Most of us don’t have a lot of faith in the government, but it’s a relief that someone is there in an emergency situation. The police department or the fire department can come in and quickly diagnose the situation and make it safe again.
It is only natural, then, that one would want to get the government involved in a nasty child custody situation. If anything is an emergency, then it is a child’s welfare. In Arkansas, that part of the government would be the DCFS (Division of Children and Family Services), which is a branch of DHS (Department of Human Services).
Arkansas DHS is not like the police or fire department. DHS is like more like the taxman. If you have an accounting emergency, you do not want to call the IRS. Instead, you’ll want to call an accountant to fix the problem. The IRS will no doubt be able to help you with your accounting problem, but they’re probably not going to leave it at that. They’ll sniff around and start poking into anything and everything that they can. That’s their job.
DHS’s job is similar. They will investigate anyone and everyone associated with an Arkansas child custody situation. They will make quick judgments about who is a good parent and who is a bad parent because they just don’t have enough time. And they won’t leave you alone once the emergency is over. They have to stay involved, but they have way too many cases. This means that DHS is going to be super busy and super involved in the case. That is, they will have a lot of authority without a lot of information. They will do the best that they can, but that may not be very good.
There are child custody situations where DHS is absolutely necessary. If you know that a child has been abused, you should report it, and you’re not going to be able to avoid DHS. For the child custody situations where you do not need to involve Arkansas DHS, it may not be the best solution. Once you make that call, you are no longer in control.
In my experience, most Arkansas child custody situations are better handled without DHS involvement. If you want to protect your rights and make sure that the situation gets more attention, the best thing to do is to hire your own attorney.
Note: This might be a direct contact with a prospective client—a kind of legal advertisement. I don’t really think it is—you found me, after all—but it’s better to be safe than a sorry. If you have any problems with the information in this blog post or with me, here is some information you might find useful:
“ANY COMPLAINTS ABOUT THIS LETTER OR THE REPRESENTATION OF ANY LAWYER MAY BE DIRECTED TO THE SUPREME COURT COMMITTEE ON PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT, C/O CLERK, ARKANSAS SUPREME COURT, 625 MARSHALL STREET, LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS 72201.”