In part one of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan’s series on Child Protective Services, we discussed the basic framework of a CPS investigation and how the Agency defines child abuse. Today we will examine the legal definitions of child neglect as well as who the relevant parties to a CPS investigation are.
How the State of Texas defines Neglect of a child
CPS will be looking for a scenario in which you have left your child in a situation where your child would be exposed to a substantial risk of physical or mental harm. This includes not arranging for child-care and displaying an intent to not return the child by you or any other conservator.
Otherwise, simply placing a child in (act) or failing to remove a child from (omission) a situation that a reasonable person would understand requires judgment or actions beyond the child’s level of maturity, physical condition or mental abilities and that results in bodily injury or a substantial risk of immediate harm to the child is a definition that CPS will apply when investigating you.
The third “major” definition of neglect as far as CPS is concerned is allowing your child to return to your home without first arranging for child care when the child was away from the home for any reasons. This includes things like having been placed with a temporary family for a period or time or having left your home on his or her own without your knowledge or consent.
Once a CPS investigation begins who can you expect to be involved?
The number of persons involved in CPS investigation expands if and when a lawsuit has to be filed. CPS would in that case be represented by an attorney who will represent their interests in court and will utilize the evidence obtained by the CPS case worker.
The purpose of any hearing or courtroom proceeding will be to allow CPS to maintain custody of your child or to remove first remove your child from your home.
Attorney Ad Litem
A second attorney that would be involved with any lawsuit filed by CPS is an Attorney ad Litem. An Attorney Ad Litem’s role in the case is to represent your child’s interests. “Wait a minute, you may be thinking- I thought that I represented my child’s interests since I’m the parent.”
While this is true on some levels, in the context of a legal case initiated by CPS you will be representing your own interests which may be adverse to those of your child in the eyes of the law. As a result, your child will be assigned an attorney to represent him or her. The attorney’s only objective will be to place the interests of your child first and foremost.
Guardian Ad Litem
The ad litem will often times interview you and your family and of course meet with your child to speak to him or her if your child is old enough. Other relevant parties like teachers, counselors, therapists or doctors can be interviewed by the ad litem attorney as well.
Just as in other family law cases, the attorney ad litem will act in your child’s interests during courtroom proceedings and can make recommendations to the judge as to what is in your child’s best interests. The attorney ad litem acts as a guardian ad litem in their in-court capacity as described previously.
The CPS caseworker who is conducting the investigation on behalf of CPS will be your primary point of contact during the course of the case. The caseworker is put on the case approximately three weeks after your child is removed from your home. It is critical that you maintain close contact with this caseworker even if communication proves difficult.
The caseworker’s job is to ask questions and collect information that can be used in the CPS investigation. You will be assigned a safety plan that will require you to accomplish certain tasks in a specific time period in order for your child to return to your home.
If you follow the safety plan, communicate regularly with the case worker and the investigation does not yield any positive findings the caseworker will close the case opened against you.
Finally, if you find yourself the subject of a CPS investigation and your child has been removed from your home the most important person involved in your case should be your attorney.
Especially if a legal case has been started, you should have an attorney ready to represent your interests in court. As you’ve seen, just about every other party involved in your case will have an attorney available and you should as well. In termination cases the court can appoint you an attorney if you cannot afford to retain one yourself.
Your attorney will file any necessary documents for the judge to review prior to a hearing and will speak on your behalf and advocate for you during courtroom appearances.
Just as we are attempting to teach you some basic information about CPS investigations, your attorney will help you walk through your case with greater knowledge and understanding of the relevant issues.
Your demeanor in the courtroom and in completing the steps of the safety plan can be critical to your being awarded your child at the end of the case. Your attorney will understand what is expected of you and will help you conduct yourself appropriately in court and in your day to day life as well.
CPS attorneys for southeast Texas families- The Law Office of Bryan Fagan
CPS is tough to deal with. CPS doesn’t play games. CPS doesn’t play fair. You’ve probably heard these sort of statements before from people in your life who have experience with CPS. Whether or not they are true, you do not want to test your luck if you find yourself in the middle of a CPS investigation where your child hangs in the balance.
The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are experienced advocates for southeast Texas parents who find themselves being investigated by CPS. If you have any questions for one of our licensed family lawattorneys please do not hesitate to contact our office today. A free of charge consultation is only a phone call away.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- 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
- Child Protective Services: Investigation Essentials for Texas Families
- Grandparents can find themselves in a tough spot when raising a child in response to a CPS investigation
- What can be done if CPS has taken possession of your child in Texas?
- CPS and how The Law Office of Bryan Fagan can help
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
- Texas Child Visitation Modification
- 10 Quick Tips About Parental Visitation
- Texas Parental Visitation – Texas Standard Possession Orders in Harris and Montgomery County, Texas – Part 1
- Supervised Visitation in a Texas Divorce: Can it happen to me?
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 defenseLawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our CPS defenselawyers 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 defense cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, 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.