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These types of cases are ones that are brought by the State of Indiana (specifically the Department of Child Services) against one or both parents.

In a CHINS case, the State is alleging that the child has been abused by a parent, or that one or both of the parents have neglected to meet the child’s basic needs.

In every CHINS case, the State must prove that the parents will not stop abusing the child or start providing for the child’s needs unless the Court makes them.

If a child is found to be a “child in need of services”, then the Court can enter an Order, called a “dispositional order” that requires parents to do certain things, and requires the State (“DCS”) to supervise and make sure that the parents do those things.

In a CHINS case, the Court can also enter an Order removing the child from the parents’ care and placing the child with another family member or even with a foster family until the parent shows that they can adequately provide for the child’s needs.

In some cases, a family can work with DCS under an "Informal Adjustment" that allows for DCS to monitor the family and provide services to help them, without filing a formal CHINS case or removing the children from their parents.  Even if a CHINS case has been filed, the parents and DCS may later agree to close that CHINS case and work under an "Informal Adjustment" instead.

Indiana law favors reunification of children and parents, even if children have been removed under a formal CHINS case.  DCS is required to work with the family and provide services to both the children and the parents which can help to put the family back together again.  However, if a child is removed from the parents and the parents cannot do what they've been ordered to do to provide for the child’s needs, then the State may be able to file a case for termination of the parent’s rights, or a TPR case.

In some cases, the State may be REQUIRED to file for termination of a parent's rights if the parents have been unable to comply with the orders in their CHINS case. 

Parents always have the right to an attorney in both CHINS cases and TPR cases and if they cannot afford an attorney, the Court MUST give them a court appointed attorney to represent their interests.


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Helfrich Law Offices is a full service law firm with two locations to serve our clients in Hancock County, Hendricks County and throughout Central Indiana. We have over 20 years experience practicing before Indiana trial and appellate courts, handling cases involving all areas of law, including family law, adoptions and guardianships, small business law, criminal matters, estate planning, probate, contracts, real estate, small claims, collection, banking, and civil litigation. We also offer mediation services. Call us to discuss how we can serve you, your family and your business.