Search Tips

Juvenile Court - Children in Need of Protection Cases

Child in Need of Protection (CHIPS) Cases

How are cases referred to the court?

Child in need of protection cases are referred to juvenile court by local human service zone agencies.  The referrals are made usually as part of a child abuse or neglect investigation completed by human services zone child protection services.  A decision whether to file a petition with the juvenile court is made by the county state’s attorney’s office based on the evidence gathered in the investigation.  If the state’s attorney files a petition, a court hearing is scheduled and the legal documents are served on the parties to the case by the state’s attorney’s office.

What is a “child in need of protection”?

North Dakota law defines a child in need of protection as a child who is "without proper parental care or control necessary for the child’s physical, mental or emotional health, or morals, and the need for protection is not due primarily to the lack of financial means of the child’s parents, guardian or other custodian."  A child in need of protection is also defined by the law as one who has been placed for care or adoption in violation of law, has been abandoned by the child’s parents, guardian, or other custodian, is in need of treatment and whose parents or guardians have refused to participate in treatment as ordered by the juvenile court or is a child who is a victim of human trafficking.  Children are also considered in need of protection if they were subject to prenatal exposure to chronic or severe use of alcohol or controlled substances or are present in an environment subjecting them to exposure to a controlled substance, chemical substance, or drug paraphernalia.

What is Emergency Removal or Protective Custody?

Under North Dakota law, a child can be removed from their parents by a law enforcement officer or as directed in a temporary custody order if the child is suffering from illness or injury or is in immediate danger from the child’s surroundings and the child’s removal is necessary.  A hearing before a judge must be held within 96 hours, to determine whether there is probable cause for the child to remain in shelter care.  Reasonable notice, either oral or written, must be given to the parents, if they can be found.

If my child was taken into protective custody, where is my child now?

When a child is removed from a parental home, he or she will be placed by the human service zone in a safe environment.  The zone worker will inform the parents or guardians where the child has been placed unless there is some reason to believe that it is dangerous for the parents to know where the children are located.  As the case begins, the judge or referee will decide if it is safe for the child to be returned to the parent or guardian or be placed in the care of a relative, a licensed foster care home, or other placement option.

Does my child need a lawyer?

Child in Need of Protection (CHIPS) Cases: A child who is of sufficient age and competency to assist their lawyer is entitled to a lawyer in a child in need of protection case. Contact your local juvenile court office for assistance.

What is a Lay Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)?

A lay guardian ad litem (GAL) is someone who represents the best interests of a child in a child in guardianship, child need of protection, or termination of parental rights case.  A GAL is separate from the county human service zone or the county states attorney’s office so that they can provide the judge or referee with independent information and recommendations on such matters as the welfare of the child, parent progress with the case plan, what type of visitation might be appropriate, where the child should live, and when the child could be safely reunited.

North Dakota Department of Human Services:Children and Family Services