Is it Me or is Everyone Talking About Parental Alienation?

By Gregg Woodnick and Isabel Ranney Things do not just “trend” in fashion or TikTok. They happen in courtrooms too. In the 1980s, the era of unlocking repressed memory had people suddenly remembering childhood traumas at a scientifically unsupportable rate, and with significant consequences. In the 1990s, guided imagery led to even more “recollections” of memories, […]

An Abuse Allegation Against You Has Been “Substantiated”: Now What?

By Gregg Woodnick and Isabel Ranney A DCS Investigation Crystal is the mother of three-month-old Michael and six-year-old Grace. A few months ago, she was the subject of a Department of Child Safety (DCS) investigation when Michael fractured his leg after a fall in the park. The attending physician at Phoenix Children’s Hospital believed the […]

How Long Does Arizona DCS Have to Investigate an Allegation?

By Deandra Arena and Isabel Ranney Suppose five-year-old Lucas tells his Kindergarten teacher that his dad hits him and that is why he has a faint bruise on his leg. As a mandatory reporter under A.R.S. § 13-3620, Lucas’ teacher calls the DCS hotline and reports her “reasonable belief” that Lucas may be abused or […]

So You’ve Given Birth to a Substance Exposed Newborn

By Deandra Arena and Isabel Ranney Imagine you have a friend, Chloe, a lawyer who was prescribed pain meds after a car accident four years ago and ever since suffers from an unfortunate addiction to oxycodone. Chloe is also pregnant with her first child. When Chloe starts to go into labor, she arrives at St. […]

Both DCS and the Police have Questions for your Client—What Now?

By Gregg Woodnick and Isabel Ranney Originally Published in the Maricopa Lawyer, online edition available 08/08/21. Your client calls you saying the police and the Department of Child Safety (DCS) are at their door. You know your client is in the middle of a toxic divorce and brace for what is about to come next. “They […]

So DCS has invited you to a Team Decision-Making Meeting (TDM): Now what?

By Deandra Arena and Isabel Ranney In the grand scheme of nearly indecipherable acronyms in child welfare investigations, one particular abbreviation stands out as being part of nearly every case but nonetheless being misunderstood by most parents. The “TDM,” or “team decision-making meeting,” is an important step in the resolution of child welfare investigations that […]

Arizona Parents’ Bill of Rights

By: Markus Risinger and Deborah Lee The Arizona Court of Appeals recently touched upon the Arizona Parents’ Bill of Rights Act in Jessica P. v. Department of Child Safety. In that case, the mother argued that the juvenile court had a statutory duty to apply the Parents’ Bill of Rights Act and the failure to […]

Rumors & Mandatory Reporting: Zamora reminds us the reasonableness standard is opaque warranting caution when dealing with any allegation of abuse

Brittany Zamora has garnered nationwide attention for her nefarious sexual relationship with her 13-year-old student. Zamora recently pleaded guilty to several sexual abuse charges and is now facing a lengthy prison sentence. However, a lesser known civil suit also surfaced, claiming Zamora’s school district[1] knew about the abuse months before the parents discovered it and did nothing to intervene.[2]  Given a failure to report child abuse constitutes a class 6 felony under Arizona law,[3] we ought to be curious whether the district’s officials could be criminally liable, too.

When Adoptions Fail

Building adopted families is a dream for many people.  Perhaps adoption is a choice in the wake of fertility challenges, perhaps adoption is the product of a relative who is unable to care for their own child through CPS, or perhaps building your family has always meant adopting.  After all, there are far too many children in state care who also need loving homes.