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Texas Family Courts: Child Protective Services, Part Two

In the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC’s final installment covering Texas Family Law courts courts courtscourts, we will discuss Child Protective Services (CPS) and how a court case involving this agency will proceed if you and your family become involved in one.

Yesterday, we discussed the process involved if CPS removes your child from your home and how a hearing will need to be set within fourteen days of this occurring to allow you to present evidence to a judge that will enable your child to return to your home. Today we will continue to walk through a CPS case, starting with a Family Group Conference.

A CPS court case after the Adversarial Hearing

Once a hearing has been had wherein you have had an opportunity to present evidence to the judge, and CPS has done the same, a group meeting will occur with you, your spouse, CPS officials, and any other party involved in the case attending.

It is not a legal proceeding and is informal. The goals associated with the case from the perspective of CPS will be discussed, and input from you and your spouse will be considered. The following steps in the process to have your child returned to your home, if possible, will be outlined so that you understand what needs to be accomplished.

If CPS has specific requirements outlined for you and your spouse to have your child returned to your home, they must file what is called a service plan with the court no more than 45 days after the full adversarial hearing. This plan will outline precisely what is expected of you to reach whatever goal was drafted in the family group meeting.

Shortly after that, no more than 60 days after the full adversarial hearing, a status hearing will be held. CPS updates the judge on where all parties are in completing the service plans outlined by the agency.

If you are cooperating and participating in the programs outlined in your service plan, then you will be in good shape to regain the permanent conservatorship of your child.

Family Group Meeting #2

A second family group meeting follows the status hearing and precedes a first permanency hearing. This meeting will typically occur around the fifth month that the child is in the care of CPS.

All the steps you take to regain possession of your child will be gone over in this meeting. The goals outlined in the first meeting can be amended if necessary based on the changing needs of the child or the performance of you and your spouse in completing your service plan.

Shortly before your permanency hearing, a progress report will be filed with the court outlining your progress in completing the service plan and what else is needed at this time for either the child or yourself. This information will be provided to you and your spouse so that you can track the progress being made in the eyes of the CPS caseworker.

An Initial Permanency Hearing- What this means to you and your family

Within six months after the full adversarial hearing, the initial permanency hearing occurs. The purpose of this hearing is to have the judge look at how your child is doing in the care and conservatorship of CPS.

Your status as a parent attempting to win back the conservatorship of your child will also be evaluated by the judge. Your attendance at family group meetings and performance regarding the service plan will be the center-points of the judge’s evaluation of you.

If the judge determines that you have done everything asked of you and that the child is not at risk of harm in your home, it is possible that your child can be returned to you with no additional proceedings necessary.

However, you can expect if you have not followed your service plan precisely as outlined for you or have missed meeting dates, or otherwise been unhelpful in some regard, the return of your child to your home will be unlikely.

A second permanency hearing will occur within 120 days of the initial permanency hearing. Subsequent permanency hearings will occur within 120 days of the one that preceded it. This pattern occurs until a final trial is set.

What you need to know once your child is placed in the custody of CPS

Once your child is removed from your home and CPS wins temporary custody of them, you have the right to be notified of every hearing, status meeting, or other conference related to your case. Each of the steps outlined above has to be made known to you and your spouse in advance of each one occurring.

In some cases, CPS will recommend that your parental rights be terminated and that an adoptive parent is located in order so that adoption may be pursued as an option. If this is true for you, you can request that the court appoint you an attorney to represent you and your interests.

Your contact will be limited with your child moving forward, but you can visit with them unless the court has ordered no visitation based on the particular circumstances of your case. Ultimately if you qualify to be appointed an attorney or if you hire a private attorney, you will need all the help and support that you can get during this difficult time.

You have rights in the context of a CPS case. It may not seem like it, and CPS will almost certainly do nothing more to help you than they are statutorily forced to do, but you can fight to keep your child.

Questions on Texas family law? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

I appreciate your interest in Texas family law courts and the types of cases before judges in our State. If you have questions about any particular subject that we’ve discussed, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, today. One of our licensed family law attorneys is available six days a week to meet with you in a free-of-charge consultation where your questions can be answered.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. Grandparents can find themselves in a tough spot when raising a child in response to a CPS investigation
  2. What to know about Child Protective Services
  3. Child Protective Services Investigation- What to expect and how to handle the situation
  4. Child Protective Services Investigation- What to expect and how to handle the situation, Part 2
  5. Child Protective Services Investigation- What to expect and how to handle the situation, Part 3
  6. Child Protective Services: Investigation Essentials for Texas Families
  7. What can be done if CPS has taken possession of your child in Texas?
  8. CPS and how The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, can help
  9. Child Custody Basics in Texas
  10. Texas Child Visitation Modification
  11. 10 Quick Tips About Parental Visitation
  12. Texas Parental Visitation – Texas Standard Possession Orders in Harris and Montgomery County, Texas – Part 1
  13. Supervised Visitation in a Texas Divorce: Can it happen to me?
  14. An Overview of the Texas Foster Care System

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