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How child protection investigations work

If you follow entertainment news, then you know that on Sept. 20 it was reported that Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from Brad Pitt, creating an unhappy ending for one of Hollywood's most beloved couples.

Just two days later, the story became even grimmer when it was reported that Pitt is under investigation for alleged child abuse, and the incident led Jolie to file for divorce. Her divorce filing lists Sept. 15 as the date of the couple's separation, which was one day after the alleged abuse happened on a private plane.

In a statement released by one of Jolie's divorce lawyers said "this decision was made for the health of the family."

With the media in a frenzy over the details of what when on, it was reported that investigations have been opened by the FBI and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Service.

An anonymous law enforcement source told the Los Angeles Times that the incident allegedly involves Pitt and Jolie's 15-year-old son, but does not involve punching or hitting. Investigators will be attempting to determine exactly what happened and whether abuse occurred.

What happens in a child protection Investigation?

In Texas, Child Protective Services (CPS) is the program that investigates after allegations are made that a child is being abused or neglected. The investigation begins with the child being interviewed. Note: CPS is not permitted to interview a child a school without first getting parental consent.

The CPS caseworker will look into the criminal history of the parent accused of abuse and/or neglect, as well as mental health records. A medical or psychiatric evaluation may be requested.

The caseworker may also interview others such as other children in the home or visit the home as part of the investigation process. Investigations typically take up to 30 days to complete, and they end with the caseworker making a determination as to whether or not abuse and/or neglect occurred.

If the caseworker determines that the child needs to be removed from the home for his or her protection, this can occur by court order as early as the next working day. Police will decide if criminal charges should be filed.

Learn more about the process in Texas here.

Why it is important to have a lawyer during the investigation

Parents will want a lawyer representing them during a CPS investigation to make sure that their parental rights are being protected. If a divorce or child custody action is pending, a family law attorney will likely represent the parent in both matters. Of course, the outcome of a CPS investigation can greatly impact child custody orders.

Reportedly, Brad Pitt has already retained a high-profile lawyer who has represented many other celebrities in family law matters. He is said to be taking the child protection investigation very seriously.

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