Monday, June 30, 2014

New Toolkit for Parents Separated from Children Because of Immigration Detention

In January we posted about the ICE directive regarding the parental rights of those involved with immigration enforcement actions.  Our previous post is HERE.

In order to help parents who are separated from their children due to immigration detention the Women's Refugee Commission has released a groundbreaking new publication:  Detained or Deported: What About My Children? What To Do If You Can't Be With Them.

This toolkit is designed to help immigrant parents keep their families together. It is the first-ever comprehensive, nationwide resource to help families who are caught between the immigration and child welfare systems.
The toolkit will also be a valuable resource for attorneys, advocates, family members and others who work with immigrant families. It provides critical information to ensure that family unity and children's best interests are taken into consideration in immigration, child welfare and family court decisions.
More than 5,100 children are currently in the U.S. foster care system because a parent has been detained or deported. Some parents have even lost their parental rights, and will likely never see their children again.
Detained and deported parents retain the legal right to make decisions about what happens to their children, even if children are temporarily out of their care. However, practically speaking, logistical barriers, a lack of coordination between the immigration and child welfare systems, and a lack of awareness of undocumented parents' rights can make it extremely difficult to put families back together once the immigration and child welfare systems are involved.
Detained or Deported: What about my children? guides parents and those who work with them through the steps they need to take to keep children from entering the child welfare system, locate children in that system, comply with a child welfare case plan, participate in family court and make arrangements for children at the conclusion of a parent's immigration case. It includes information on how to get a lawyer and how to stay in touch with children.
Detained or Deported: What about my children? has been approved by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for placement in all detention facilities that hold adults for more than 72 hours. 

You can get a copy of the toolkit on the website of the Women's Refugee Commission or download an Interactive Version or a Print Version.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Utah Juvenile Court Practice Book

Grant Dickinson has created a Utah Juvenile Court Practice Book that is a great resource for parental defense attorneys.  He recently updated the manual to include changes in the law from the last two legislative sessions.  He is asking for those who are interested to provide any feedback or corrections.  You can download a copy HERE.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Time to Register for the Court Improvement Summit

The time has come to register for the 2014 Court Improvement Summit.

The 2014 Summit is Thursday and Friday, August 14th and 15th at the Salt Lake City Radisson. The theme of this year's Summit is The Fabric of Family: Reexamining the Role of Family Connections in Child Welfare.  You can download the Agenda HERE.

This conference is a great opportunity to hear nationally renowned, as well as, local speakers on the topic of family connections in Child Welfare.  Invited to attend are DCFS workers, AGs, GALs, Parental Defenders, Judges and other stakeholders in Utah's Child Welfare System.

The Parental Defense Alliance has been allotted 50 spaces at the conference.  If you are interested in attending please email me at and I will get you the registration link.  Preference will be given to those attorneys with county contracts including conflict contracts.  I will keep a list of private attorneys interested in attending until any public defenders have been given the chance to register.

FREE.  I believe CLE credit will be available.

Lodging on Wednesday night is available to those who work at least 50 miles from the Radisson.  Lodging on Thursday night is available to ALL regardless of distance. We want you to stay.  Lodging is complimentary. You can indicate that you need lodging on the registration form. By doing so your name will be added to a rooming list. Please do no contact the hotel to reserve lodging.

Due to parking limitations, participants are encouraged to carpool. Mileage reimbursement will be provided to those who do not have access to employer vehicles.

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Video on the Importance of Visitation

This video from the Legal Services of New Jersey examines how the right kind of visitation can help families reunify.  It was originally presented as part of the 2013 celebration for National Reunification Month.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Free Conference in Las Vegas? Apply today!

The National Child Abuse Defense and Resource Center is sponsoring a conference from October 16-18, 2014 at the Harrah’s Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada entitled “Child Abuse Allegations: The Law, The Science, the Myths, the Reality.”  You can find additional information on the conference HERE.
We would like to send three parental defense attorneys from Utah.  We will cover the $450 registration fee and provide a $250 stipend towards transportation and lodging.  Those who go will be responsible for any costs above the stipend.

In order to apply you must:

1. Submit a profile to be posted on the PDA Blog.  (Note: if you have already submitted a profile as part of the contest in April, you can skip to step 2).  A profile should either be a video or submitted with a photo.  It should include:
          a. Your Name
          b. Where you practice
          c. Whether you have a county contract or not, and
          d. At least two of the following:
                    i. Something you love about being a parental defender,
                    ii. A case where you were able to successfully advocate a good outcome for your client, or
                    iii. A tip or trick in practicing parental defense law that could benefit others.
For sample profiles click HERE.

2.  Complete the Structured Decision Making Training.  If you did not attend the training in person on October 11, 2013, then you can watch it online HERE.  You can use the code ANNUALCONF for $10 off or you can watch for FREE on June 26, 2014 at 7:00pm.

*** UPDATE *** You can watch the Structured Decision Making Training online for FREE on July 18, 2014 at 8:00am.  Sigh up HERE.

3.  Following the conference in October you will be asked to write a blog post about what you learned and what was most helpful to your practice.  The idea is that if we send you to the conference you will to return and share what you learned with the other parental defense attorneys in the state.

4.  Submit a letter to the PDA addressing why you would like to attend the conference and how you think it would help your practice.  The letter must also affirm that you have competed the Structured Decision Making training, that you will write a blog post following the conference, and that if you are selected you will be able to attend the conference on the specified dates and cover any costs above the stipend

That’s it.  The PDA will select three applicants and several backups to attend.  All applications must be received by July 31, 2014.  Send submissions to

Friday, June 6, 2014

Save the Date! Judges Panel in August

On August 26, 2014, the Parental Defense Alliance will be hosting a CLE lunch and a panel of Juvenile Court Judges to discuss mistakes attorneys make in juvenile court.  The Honorable Sharon S. Sipes and the Honorable James R. Michie, Jr. are two of the confirmed panel members.  This is one event  you won't want to miss!

We will also be broadcasting this event live over the internet!  Those of you who are unable to make it in person will be able to watch from the comforts of your own computer monitor.

Stay tuned for more details!

Panel of Judges: Mistakes Attorneys Make in Juvenile Court
August 26, 2014
TBA in Salt Lake City OR Live Webcast
12:00pm Lunch
12:30-1:30pm Panel Discussion and Live Webcast
1 Hour of CLE will be requested from the Bar

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Michigan Court Finds One-Parent Doctrine Unconstitutional

Another case came down this week in support of parental rights.  This time in Michigan.  You can find a syllabus of the case HERE.

The Michigan Supreme Court found that a procedure known as the one-parent doctrine infringed on the rights of a non-adjudicated parent.  The one-doctrine provides that if the court's jurisdiction has been established by the adjudication of one parent to a child, then the court can enter dispositional orders affecting the parent rights of both parents.  In this case only the mother had been adjudicated as unfit, but the father was required to comply with a service plan before the children were returned to his custody.  The Supreme Court found that due process requires that a parent be adjudicated as unfit before the state can infringe on the parent's constitutionally protected parent-child relationship.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

New Jersey Court Finds Incarceration Alone Insufficient to Terminate Parental Rights.

Yesterday a New Jersey court found that a prison term alone is insufficient to terminate parental rights.  You can read a syllabus of the decision HERE.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Mental Illness and "Predictive Neglect"

There is a great article (HERE) on the treatment of parents with mental illness and the use of "predictive neglect" as a reason for removal.  It's entitled "Should a Mental Illness Mean You Lose Your Kid?"