Your rights in a Child Protective Services (CPS) case
It can feel like that you have no rights whatsoever, and that CPS can do whatever they would like to you if you become involved with them. After all- if they can remove your children from your home, what else is there that they can do?
It is this fear of the unknown that has lead to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan wanting to post a series of blog posts on family law cases in general. Today’s blog will continue to focus on CPS cases. We will begin today’s discussion by going over what rights you do have in a CPS case.
We will start by going over information that I included at the end of yesterday’s blog. You have the right to be represented by an attorney in your case. This is especially true if CPS is wanting to terminate your parental rights. If you cannot afford an attorney you should inform the judge of this and he or she may be able to appoint you an attorney.
Sort of a basic right that I think should put you at ease (somewhat) is that CPS and the judge will not hold any hearings without you knowing of the date and time for that hearing. You may have zero experience with attorneys, judge, and court in general. However, this will not keep you from attending any hearing and having your opinion known at those hearings. You will be given notice of any courtroom hearing.
On a more basic level, your CPS caseworker has to keep you informed of your child’s case and update you on their well being.
This does not mean that every time you call him or her you will be able to speak to them, but it does mean that phone calls made to their office will have to be returned by the CPS caseworker or their supervisor. In fact, your showing an interest in the day to day happenings and remaining in communication with him or her may be required by the judge in your case.
A rundown of the people involved in your CPS case
The person who will play perhaps the most integral role in your CPS case is the CPS caseworker. After your child is removed from your home the CPS caseworker’s name and contact information will be provided to you. Another caseworker will be assigned to your case within a few weeks of your child being removed from your care.
The caseworker will provide you with more information and will ask you for additional information about your child and the situation and led to their removal from your home. Perhaps most importantly your CPS caseworker is charged with following up on the well being of your child and can answer questions as to how he or she is doing while in CPS case. Finally, it often occurs that a service plan will need to be worked out between yourself and CPS. This plan is an overview of what CPS believes to be necessary in order to allow the return of your child to your home.
A rule of thumb that applies to your caseworker that also applies to many other people we are going to discuss in this section is that if you do not hear from your caseworker for a period of time it is a smart move to initiate a phone call to him or her.
Hiring an Attorney
If you hire an attorney or are assigned an attorney by the judge he or she will go over your case with you in order to learn more about your child, you, your family and the circumstances that led to your child being removed from your home.
It is important that you share details that you believe to be important with your attorney. There may be aspects of your case that you may have overlooked that can be extremely important to quickly returning your child to you and your family.
While in court your attorney will speak and advocate on your behalf. CPS hearings can vary in length and complexity so having an attorney by your side to help navigate a hearing is crucial. Unless you yourself are an attorney it’s unlikely that you will understand all of the issues well enough to represent and speak on your own behalf.
Even more important than speaking for you in court, your attorney will be your guide for the times you are not in court (which is most of the time during your CPS case). If you don’t understand the issues of your case or are unclear about why the judge said or did something in your hearing your attorney will help you to understand. The rights that you possess are hypothetical unless you understand them and can apply them properly. Your attorney will guide you in this regard as well.
The service plan that we discussed in the prior section on CPS caseworkers is the key to unlocking your case, shortening it if possible and ultimately getting your children back in your care. The plan will need to be completed exactly as it is outlined in your agreement with CPS and your attorney can act as an accountability partner in ensuring this occurs.
CPS is Represented by an Attorney
Having your own attorney to advocate for your rights is important because CPS will have their own attorney to represent their interests and rights in your case as well.
The objective of the CPS attorney will be to speak to the judge about why CPS needs to remain in custody of your child.
Lawyers for Your Children
Two persons that will be involved in your CPS case are Attorney Ad Litems and the Court Appointed Special Advocate. An attorney ad litem will be appointed by the court to represent the interests of your child. He or she will do this by meeting with your child to learn more about him or her and will advocate based on your child’s best interests in court.
You may be thinking to yourself- I’m the child’s parent, therefore I am the one who should be doing this. While this is true on a certain level, the fact remains that your interests and your children may not exactly intersect in a CPS case. As a result, a separate and independent representative is appointed to advocate for your child.
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) may be appointed in your case. This person is a volunteer with training in family law and CPS cases who will act in similar ways as the Attorney ad litem, functioning as an advocate for your child.
The CASA representative will meet with you, your child and other parties to the case to be able to make separate assessments and recommendations to the judge. The CASA representative is not an attorney and will not be acting in that capacity in your hearing, however.
Finally, your CPS case will likely go through mediation with at least one mediator. We learned in an earlier blog post what a mediator does in a family law case and those same attributes are largely applicable in a CPS case as well.
The key difference is that while most mediations in family law cases are done with the parties in separate rooms, a CPS mediation is more like a conversation happening in real time in the same room with all parties and their attorneys present. The goal is the same as a family law case: to avoid court and to reach a settlement on the outstanding issues in your CPS case.
Courtroom steps in a CPS case to be discussed in tomorrow’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
In our next blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan on Family Law cases we will conclude our discussion on CPS by running through the legal steps in the process- from an initial hearing through trial.
If you have questions for our attorneys on any subject in family law, please contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. One of our licensed family law attorneys can work with you to set up a free of charge consultation to address any question you may have.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Managing a Family Law case in Texas
- Texas Family Courts: Child Protective Services, Part Two
- How to present yourself and testify well in court during your divorce case, Part Two
- What to know about Child Protective Services
- Child Protective Services Investigation- What to expect and how to handle the situation
- Child Protective Services Investigation- What to expect and how to handle the situation, Part 2
- Child Protective Services Investigation- What to expect and how to handle the situation, Part 3
- 16 Steps to help you Plan and Prepare for your Texas Divorce
- How to present yourself and testify well in court during your divorce case
- Tips on giving in-court testimony in your divorce or child custody case
- Getting Ready for a Hearing On Temporary Custody Orders
- Geographic Restrictions in Child Visitation Orders in Texas
- The Dirty Trick of Moving Out of State with the Kids
Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Houston, Texas CPS defense Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding CPS, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX CPS defense lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our cps defense lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles cps cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.