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Children have a right to be safe. When parents and guardians fail to reasonably protect children, the state government may get involved. In Arizona, the responsibility lies on the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS).

If you are a parent under investigation by the Arizona Department of Child Safety, you may wonder what authority they have over you and your rights. 

In this article, our family law attorneys will cover what Arizona Protective Services can and cannot do.

Arizona DCS Involved Your Child Custody Case?
Speak with Our Family Law Attorneys Now About Your Rights.

Or, Continue Reading Below About:
How the Arizona DCS can Impact Child Custody in a Divorce

About the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS)

The Arizona Department of Child Safety “compassioneers” aim to keep children safe and also keep families together without creating extra trauma for the children involved. 

The department’s values include:

  • Safety
  • Engagement
  • Accountability
  • Compassion
  • Change
  • Teaming
  • Family 
  • Advocacy

The department investigates claims of abuse and neglect, removing children from dangerous environments when necessary. However, they claim to do their best to keep families together when safe for the children and limit removal to keep it as short as possible.

Arizona DCS Involvement During a Divorce

Unfortunately, divorce can bring out the worst in people. It can even encourage individuals to say things they wouldn’t normally say about their ex’s parenting skills. 

No one is a perfect parent, and we all deserve a little bit of leeway for moments of frustration (within reason). However, when these accusations come up during a divorce case, can you blame the authorities for looking into things? 

The problems would probably never come up if not for the divorce. However, when they do come up, you need to handle them properly and remember that the intention is to ensure a proper environment for your children, so you should cooperate and connect to DCS based on those common goals.

What to Expect During an Arizona DCS Investigation?

If the Arizona Department of Child Safety wants to conduct an investigation, be open to the idea. If you are anticipating an investigation, contact the family law attorneys at Colburn Hintze Maletta immediately. We will guide you through the difficult process.

An investigator will come to your home and attempt to speak with your child. An investigator does not need any prior approval from a parent before conducting an interview with a child. You also aren’t legally required to be present for the interview

Interviewers do need your permission to enter your home. If you do not want to invite an investigator into your home, you are not legally obligated to do so unless they have a court order. If you don’t welcome them into your home, they may still conduct the interview elsewhere. 

The interviewer may also interview you and the other people in your household to get a complete story. They will not take a child’s word as gold. However, they are there to protect the child and will take all accusations seriously. 

If the investigator decides there is nothing to investigate, they may close the DCS case. Alternatively, they may continue the investigation.

5 Tips for Getting Through a DCS Investigation with Arizona CPS During Your Divorce

When a relationship ends, it can feel like the walls are crumbling around you. When your ex brings your children into the mix, it can feel like you’ll never be able to dig yourself out of the rubble. Don’t give up hope. Use these tips to get through a DCS investigation during your divorce.

1. Be Honest

Rather than completely denying family turmoil, it’s best to explain your side of the situation and appear open. You don’t necessarily want to release information that’s not necessary to the DCS case, but you also shouldn’t hide things.  You may have an attorney present during a DCS Interview.

Investigators understand family drama and parenthood get hard. They are more willing to work with someone who appears open and honest.

2. Take the High Road

You need to demonstrate your maturity throughout this process. Speak kindly of your ex and resist retaliatory behavior. You may feel good at the moment, but it may not produce the best results for your children in the end. When you take the high road, the courts will notice.

3. Avoid Social Media

It can be tempting to vent on social media. However, everything you post on social media can be used against you in your custody battles. Do not talk about your court proceedings on social media at all. Don’t even post memes that allude to your situation.

You should also avoid posting too many photos of vacationing, drinking, socializing as it can be misconstrued. You don’t have to be a saint, but you don’t need to make your life public knowledge, either.

4. Stay Out of Trouble

The best way to ruin your chances during a DSC investigation is to get in trouble during the investigation. Do not put yourself in a position where you can get arrested for any crimes, as your ex’s child custody lawyer can and will use it against you.

5. Take Every Visitation Opportunity

If Arizona Department of Child Safety arranges for visitation between you and the children, you may not like the visitation options available to you for a temporary span of time.

However, you should still take advantage of every chance you can to see your children. The judge will notice if you make the decision to skip opportunities to see your children.

Reasons a Child May Be Removed from a Household

In the last six months, the Arizona Department of Child Safety received 22,265 calls that met the statutory criteria for a DCS report. Most DCS cases don’t result in the authorities removing children from the household.

However, investigators will put children into the system in certain extreme situations in which staff believes the children will continue to suffer or need professional medical treatment, including mental health care. 

Examples of imminent harm include:

  • Untreated accidental injuries
  • No guardian present
  • Unstable caregiver

Child Abuse

One of the main reasons that a child will be removed from a residence is child abuse. In Arizona, the crime of child abuse is defined by the statute ARS 13-3623. 

ARS 13-3623 describes child abuse as knowingly or recklessly injuring a child (such as excessive discipline) or neglectfully putting a child in a position where they may become injured or ill (such as allowing children into a meth house or keeping them in a hot car with the windows rolled up). The law also applies to vulnerable adults. 

Child abuse can result in a Class 2 Felony and up to 10 years in prison in severe cases. The court considers all child abuse cases felonies as opposed to misdemeanors.


Guardians have a responsibility to make themselves properly available to their children. When a guardian fails a child due to their own negligence, the neglect becomes a criminal offense that can lead to the child being removed from a home. 

Physical neglect makes up for more than 50% of neglect cases. There are multiple forms of physical neglect, including:

  • Abandonment
  • Expulsion
  • Refusal/Delay of Health Care

The other forms of neglect include educational neglect (29%) and emotional neglect (20%).

What is the Arizona DCS Child Removal Process?

There are several professionals that you will work with during the child removal process:

  • DCS case manager 
  • DCS supervisor
  • Foster care review volunteer
  • Doctor

A “Removal Review Team” from Arizona child protective services will meet to make an initial decision about your situation as part of a mandatory review. 

Before putting the child into the state’s custody, they attempt to look for other options, such as placing the child with a relative. At the end of 2001, 24% of children in foster care lived with relatives

Once a child is removed from their home, the authorities involved must file a petition within 72 hours. The petition ensures that the parents get an attorney and a court date to state their case about why they should get their children back.


Repealing an Arizona Department of Child Safety Ruling

An investigation or temporary removal is not the last step. You have options. Here are some options you have if you want to repeal a ruling by the DCS.

Optional Review

All parents have the right to request an optional review of the removal decision. While an option, very few parents take this option. In fact, out of 7400 removals, only 49 parents requested a review (as of May 2002).

Furthermore, the Protective Services Review Team (PSRT) overturned almost 50% of cases from the years 1999 – 2001. With the right legal help, it can be done.

File a Complaint Against DCS

If you feel that your DCS case didn’t get the treatment it deserves, you can respectfully file a complaint with Arizona child protective services. 

Start by sending an email to your Arizona CPS investigator describing your concerns. All written correspondence must be properly documented. If you don’t get a response from Arizona child protective services after 2 -3 business days, you can reach out to the investigator’s supervisor. Of course, you may benefit from a family law attorney throughout this process.

Hiring a Child Custody Lawyer for an Arizona Child Protective Services Case

When the stakes are high, you need a legal team behind you to help you along the way. 

Contact Colburn Hintze Maletta at (602) 825-2500 to schedule a consultation today. Legal experts in child custody and child support can make even the most stressful situations more feasible.

With the help of a child custody lawyer from our firm, we can ensure you are able to be the parent you want to be, despite Arizona CPS.

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Real Client Reviews

Below are just a few of what our clients have to say!

Arizona attorney Darin Colburn

“The calm in the middle of my storm…”

I, recently, consulted with Darin after my wife filed for divorce. He was referred to me by a friend whom I very much trust. Darin was the antithesis of the first two attorneys I consulted (who were matter-of-fact and had very little empathy about the fact that I was struggling emotionally with what was transpiring). From the first few minutes of speaking with Darin, it was obvious that he was very knowledgeable and skilled with divorce and family matters. While that was most important to me, the thing that made the difference was his calming, logical, and empathetic approach. He took the time to listen and empathize with me. He took the time to understand what I wanted to achieve through this process and laid out my options. After the consultation, I knew he would be my attorney if I had to pull the trigger. I, ultimately, didn’t have to engage Darin’s services due to a reconciliation with my wife. I hope I never have to go through that process again, however, if I do, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt who I will be hiring to represent me…Darin R. Colburn. Darin, thank you for caring and being more than an attorney.

Frank - AVVO Review

Divorce / Reconciliation Client
Attorney David Maletta

“There is NOBODY I would rather have defending me than David”

I hired David Maletta and it was the best decision of my life. His knowledge, genuine interest, overall attitude, and ability to connect with people is incomparable. I could talk about all of this at length. I COULD do all of that, but that wouldn’t do David justice. He first and foremost demonstrates his interest and genuine care for his client. Being in uncharted territory with a criminal charge and nowhere to turn, David’s presence and personality put all nerves at ease. I went through a jury trial with David beside me. The trial ran for 3 days and I spent a significant amount of time with David one-on-one. During this stressful time, he wanted to hear my input and thoughts on everything. David was incredible from the first day I met him. Not only is he a great attorney, but he is also a great person who cares about people and finding justice for his clients. He connects to the human side of people. I can’t put into words how much David cares about the individual in a case. When it comes to the courtroom, there is NOBODY I would rather have defending me than David.

Jacob - AVVO Review

DUI Defense Client
Arizona attorney Darin Colburn

“Because of Darin I got my daughter back”

Before I hired Darin I went through a total of 3 different attorneys in two different states fighting a jurisdiction battle, when my daughter was taken to a different state. It was a very difficult decision to switch attorneys at one of the most difficult, time sensitive and important times in my case, but I’m very glad I did. Upon receiving my file from previous attorneys Darin came very familiar with my case quickly. Like other people have explained he took the time to lay everything out and explain how the process was going to proceed and what to expect and continued to do this as new issues arrived. He is also very quick at responding to emails and phone calls. My case was getting close to trial as told by my previous attorneys, I did not want to go to trial as I know this is very costly (most attorneys will convince you that you need to.) Darin knew my situation, fought for what was right and got the results I wanted while avoiding a costly trial. He is extremely knowledgeable in the Child Support Guidelines as well. Because of Darin I got my daughter back. I would highly recommend him and would hire again for any future issues. Thanks Darin!

Chris - AVVO Review

Child Custody & Support Client
Attorney David Maletta

“I was found NOT GUILTY. Dave won the trial for me.”

Dave stayed with me while he pushed back and forth with Covid-19 and the delays with court. Once cited, the state basically decides that you’re guilty through the automatic suspension of your drivers license. Dave immediately took care of that problem and I never lost the privilege of driving. Dave took notes like crazy and was upfront about our uphill battle. I was also well aware that the plea deal that was given to us, was unacceptable and through Dave’s knowledge and experience I had put my trust in him to guide me to make the right decision on how to proceed. With Dave’s guidance I had decided that we needed to fight for something better than what the prosecutor was offering and Dave was 100 percent behind me on that decision. We knew the risks, be we also knew we had very little to lose based on the prosecutions stance. We decided to go to trial… Watching the prosecution and then watching Dave was night and day!! It was clear to the jury that the prosecution didn’t have their facts straight and were not addressing the facts that they could not address…There was a lot at stake for my personal life and my work life. I was found NOT GUILTY. Dave won the trial for me.

Gregory - AVVO Review

Criminal Defense Client
Arizona Attorney Timothy Hintze

“Tim was absolutely amazing and worked diligently”

I had an incident and was Given the catch-all charge. There wasn’t really anything I could do by myself to get out of it. Tim was absolutely amazing and worked diligently to ensure that I would have the best possible outcome from my case. Which he successfully achieved! As of right now I am on the path to having my case fully dismissed. A couple things that really helped me through this process was that Tim did an amazing job at was answering my questions. He was available almost anytime and would respond promptly when he got my emails. He was also very approachable and comforting to be around while we had in person meetings and especially when I was at the court house. I would trust him and the company he works for with any other cases in the future and as of right now they will be my first choice if I need a lawyer in the future.

Dylan - AVVO Review

Criminal Defense Client
Arizona Attorney Timothy Hintze

“Listens to every request that you make on a case”

I honestly just want to let it be known to any and everyone looking for an attorney on a case. Whether it be DUI, possession, or your every day to day traffic violations where you need representation attorney Tim Hintze is your man. You have to respect a man that listens to every request that you make on a case and he gets in there and gets it done. Tim has my respect as an attorney and being a well-rounded representer. From him being honest on the possibility and options for your case to him being easy to work and communicate with via over the phone or face to face Mr. Hintze is working it out.

Ben - AVVO Review

Criminal Defense Client
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