Lake County Indiana CHINS - Child in Need of Services Lawyer

CHINS Attorney – Child In Need of Services Attorney Serving Northwest Indiana

Abuse is a big deal, especially for those who do not have anyone on their side to vouch for them. Most of the time, this abuse is perpetrated by the people that are closest to the children. This is perhaps the clearest rationale for the establishment of the CHINS system. CHINS stands for a child in need of services, defined as a child who is under eighteen years who is not getting the kind of care they should be. CHINS also covers those that are generally abused or neglected. Here are some of the types of cases that fall under CHINS;

  • Children endangered by something parents either did or did not do
  • Child living in a home where there are illegal drugs
  • Child who is a danger to themselves and others
  • Missing child
  • Victim of sexual abuse
  • Born with disorders as a result of the parents drinking or taking alcohol during pregnancy

The field of CHINS is complicated, some of the typical cases that one would think would fall under this are might not. For instance, many people tend to think that when a child is a victim of a sex offense by a neighbor, they might not necessarily fall under CHINS. Typically, the child in need of services tag is for situations where the child does not get services or care that they should be receiving from their parents. It could be that the parent are either unwilling or unable to provide the care, or cannot give it without a court order.

The general goal of any CHINS proceeding is the protection of the kid. Proceedings are not criminal, so the parents cannot go to jail or be fined. However, the parents might have to pay some treatment costs. However, it is important to realize that child abuse is a serious offence that is punishable by law. In some cases, it is possible to have a CHINS case for the kid and a separate abuse case against the parent.

The CHINS case

When a case is filed under the Child in Need of Services, there normally are several hearings involved. In the initial hearing, one can liken this to the arraignment in a normal hearing. At this hearing, the child’s parent either admits or refutes the charges that have been brought on them. The results of this trial generally determine the direction that the rest of the case takes. If one admits guilt, the judge then schedules a dispositional hearing. If the parent refutes the claims, then a fact finding hearing is scheduled.

The fact finding hearing is civil in nature, and is conducted in front of a judge but without a jury. At this hearing, the office of family and children will try to prove that the abuse is more likely to have happened than to not have happened. If the office of family and children meets this burden of proof, then the case continues. If not, then the case is dismissed.

The dispositional hearing is where the court decides what steps should be taken regarding the child, and what services are required to help the child and their parents. The goal, most of the time, is to get the family back together. The court at this stage will consider testimony from the parents, and might also take into account written testimony from experts. Here are some of the possible scenarios that might happen during the dispositional hearing;

  • The court might order child supervision by the OFC
  • The court could order that the child receive outpatient treatment
  • It might award the wardship of the child to any individual or agency
  • Order the parents to pay for some or all of the costs of caring for the kids
  • Completely or partially emancipate the child
  • Remove the stewardship of the child from their parents, and place them in a foster home, a shelter or any other therapeutic care facility.


According to the law, every CHINS law has to be reviewed after six months, a review that is referred to as a placement review hearing. Here, courts consider reports from professionals and experts, and decide what happens to the child, whether they should be returned home, emancipated, given up for adoption or placed with a legal guardian.

Are you embroiled in a CHINS case? Laws that surround child service cases are clear, but a parent is entitled to have representation in a CHINS case. There is a lot involved when such a case is filed, work which can only effectively be done by a qualified and experienced lawyer. At Semko Law Office, we can help when it comes to CHINS cases. The bond between parents and their children is a special one. Poor legal tactics should not be one of the reasons why such family bonds are broken. Contact us today for help with your CHINS case.