Under the Texas Family Code, Child Protective Services (CPS) provides a great deal of authority to investigate allegations of abuse or neglect against your child and ultimately remove him or her from your home if it is believed that such an action is warranted.
CPS has set up hotlines monitored twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week for people to report these allegations confidentially. Certain people- doctors, lawyers, teachers, and police officers- are obligated by law to report instances of abuse or neglect that are discovered. If a report involves your child, then a CPS office in your area is contacted, and an investigation will begin.
Once the CPS investigation begins, what is your role as a parent?
As soon as the CPScase worker receives an assignment from their supervisor, he or she will most likely contact you and attempt to set up a time to interview you. Anyone else deemed relevant or a person with knowledge of the alleged act of neglect or abuse.
Most people will naturally believe that it is in their best interest to cooperate with CPS and speak openly to the caseworker immediately. This is, however, typically not the case. Every statement you make will be utilized to remove the child from your home if the caseworker believes there is evidence to substantiate abuse or neglect allegations. It is in your best interest to hire an attorney with experience defending against CPS investigations at this stage in the process.
After speaking to CPS, removal of your child from your home will occur if the investigator gathers information from these interviews that adds credence and legitimacy to the allegations initially made to the agency. CPS’s first option is to place your child with a family member of yours or your spouse. To gain an order granting them conservatorship over your child, CPS will create an affidavit stating your case’s circumstances and present the information to a judge. The judge will review the allegations and the information collected and then decide whether or not to issue an order that allows CPS to remove your child from your home.
At this stage, your child will be removed and placed with a family member or with a foster family. A hearing will be held in a mere fourteen days that will allow you and CPS to present evidence as to whether or not abuse or neglect has occurred. Unless you can prove outright that no abuse or neglect has happened to your child, additional hearings called “permanency hearings” will occur, and your child will remain in CPS custody for an extended period.
Does my child need to be present at a CPS hearing?
If the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has been awarded conservatorship over your child, then you will become aware that there will be several permanency hearings that take place in a courtroom. These hearings will update the judge on the status of the case- what you have been able to do to take steps to see that your child returns to your home and what the State has been working on to keep the child from abuse or neglect.
The Texas Family Code requires that your child be present at any hearing such as these. What else is required of courts under the law in Texas? Let’s discuss that question further in this blog post.
If your child is over the age of four and the judge determines that it is in the best interest of your child, then he or she must listen to and weigh the opinion of your child as to where to place your child permanently. Of course, the questions a judge asks or how he or she asks your child will depend a great deal on their age.
With that said, the State of Texas, despite the requirement previously stated that your child attends any permanency hearing, does not strictly enforce this law. One of the reasons why the law is not followed precisely in all situations is because there are often exceptions to the rule that are applicable.
For one, judges can make determinations on a case-by-case basis as to whether or not the child needs to attend a specific hearing. In the CPS cases that I have handled on behalf of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, I cannot recall a single instance where the child was present at any permanency hearing.
What is achieved by having your child at a permanency hearing?
The most important aspect of your child being a part of a hearing is that their wishes and desires regarding their future home will be made known to the judge. Depending upon their age, a child’s perspective could potentially be crucial in allowing a judge to make a well-informed and reasoned decision.
When your child is in the custody of DFPS, the majority of updates he or she will receive about their case are from caseworkers and other State employees. Because turnover within individual State offices and in the department, in general, is so high, your child’s best bet to learn about the situation and how it is being handled is probably to attend the hearings themselves.
Questions about a CPS case involving your child? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC have represented clients with CPS cases in counties across southeast Texas. When there is a risk of your child being removed from your care, there is no time to waste. Our attorneys are available six days a week to meet with you to answer questions and discuss your case. Please do not hesitate to contact us today.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “Child Protective Services E-Book”
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