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Your attorney's role in a Child Protective Services case

Picture this: you're in the midst of a legal showdown, tangled in the intricate web of the Texas justice system. You've got your court-appointed attorney by your side, and while they're supposed to be your legal lifeline, something just doesn't feel right. It's like being stuck in a relationship where the sparks have fizzled out, and you're wondering, "Can I do better?"

Well, Texas, you're in luck! In this rollercoaster of an article, we're diving headfirst into the wild world of how to gracefully bid adieu to your court-appointed attorney. We'll reveal the secret sauce to unlock your legal liberation, and by the end, you'll know whether it's time to call it quits or give that legal love another chance.

Short Answer: Wondering how to break up with your court-appointed attorney in Texas? We've got the lowdown on when to stay and when to go, plus some legal love advice you won't want to miss. Let's embark on this legal love story together!

Breaking Up with Your Court-Appointed Attorney

When it comes to Child Protective Services (CPS) and the potential impact a CPS investigation can have on you and your family, it is always advisable to have an attorney in your corner representing you. You will be in a situation where you will need to make decisions on several different subjects during the life of your CPS case. What's more- a case can last up to one year from the date on which your child is removed from your home, so it is a long process to attempt to handle the situation on your own.

The decision to hire an attorney (or to ask one to be appointed to you) is an important one to make. The details of how you can do so will be covered in today's blog post. While there are quite a few services that an attorney can provide you within the context of your CPS case, there are limits to even what an attorney can do on your behalf. This will also be gone over in some detail as well.

Hiring a lawyer to represent you in your CPS case

An attorney is a valuable person to help you through your CPS case. Even before courtroom proceedings have begun, you can hire an attorney to advise you during the investigation stage and to communicate on your behalf with CPS about the results of that investigation. You can hire a lawyer on your own if you can afford to pay one. That is the best-case scenario. A court-appointed attorney can be made available to you, but only in the later stages of your case and only if you can prove yourself indigent.

If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, there are options for you to pursue. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, offers the advice of our attorneys on a limited basis if you cannot afford a retainer and monthly payment that many attorneys require. An attorney can review your case and offer you advice on proceeding but will not attend court with you or any other meetings associated with your CPS case. While this is not the ideal situation, it can at least help you get through the initial stages of your case with some degree of representation in hand.

What do you need to do to have an attorney appointed to you by the judge?

Three requirements must be in place for the judge to appoint an attorney to represent you in your CPS case.

First and foremost, you must be found to be indigent by the judge. This means that you have a limited income and do not have the resources available to afford to hire an attorney. If you have a property that can be sold to hire an attorney, be prepared to discuss that with the judge.

Secondly, there must have been a lawsuit filed by CPS where the agency is asking a judge to be appointed as a temporary managing conservator of your child for you to be able to have an attorney appointed to represent you in your CPS case.

Finally, it would help if you appeared in open court in opposition to the petition that had been filed by CPS requesting that they be named the temporary managing conservator of your child. You cannot simply mail a letter to the judge asking him to appoint you an attorney because you cannot afford one.

What are the income limits to being found to be a needy person?

Indigency is determined on a case-by-case basis by the judge in your case because there is no specific law on this subject in the Texas Family Code. You will likely need to fill out a form that asks you to list your assets and how much income you earn from your work every month. Your expenditures in terms of monthly rent, utilities, and transportation will be balanced against those assets and income. Suppose you receive government assistance in housing allowances, Medicaid, food stamps, or similar programs. In that case, this will offer you a leg up in allowing you to qualify for a court-appointed attorney.

When will your court-appointed attorney be available to represent you?

Once it has been determined that you meet all three requirements for the court to appoint you an attorney for your CPS case, a lawyer should be appointed to you. Depending upon when you are approved for the attorney, you may speak to the lawyer before your first hearing. On the other hand, if the judge seeks to determine at the initial hearing, you can have your lawyer appointed on that date. This hearing will occur within fourteen days of your child being removed from your home. If a lawyer has not been appointed to represent you by this time, you should bring it to the court's attention at the hearing.

Discussing your case with your attorney

Once appointed by the judge or hired by you, your attorney will want to learn as much as she can about you, your child, and your CPS investigation. These are not going to be the sort of questions you likely enjoy having to answer. Some of the questions may cause you to reveal intensely private and personal information that is embarrassing or casts you in a negative light. Despite this, it is advisable to be upfront and share any detail with your attorney.

Keep in mind that your attorney is duty-bound to keep confidential any information you provide to her unless you permit her to share that with any person. Honesty is the best policy. If you cannot be honest with your attorney, you will struggle to find anyone involved in your case with whom you feel you can share crucial information.

From an attorney's perspective, we want to know as much as we can about your case and you before a hearing begins. This way, we can plan how to handle good things and bad things in the hearing. The last thing that we want to encounter is information that we were unaware of that knocks our feet out from under us. A surprise in a hearing is usually nasty and can hurt your case tremendously. Help your attorney help you by sharing information with her to represent you to the best of her abilities.

The reasons for CPS investigating your family, prior investigations involving you or your spouse, and any history of drug or alcohol abuse that you may have in your past are the sort of updates that you need to provide your attorney with no matter how you feel doing so. These are the sort of issues that your attorney can help you prepare for if you tell her in advance. When your lawyer learns about a prior CPS investigation from CPS' attorney at the hearing, she has no opportunity to derive a strategy to combat that fact.

How to Discharge a Court-Appointed Attorney in Texas

So, you've found yourself in a situation where you're not entirely satisfied with your court-appointed attorney in Texas. It's not an uncommon predicament, and it's essential to know that you do have options. This article will guide you through the process of how to discharge a court-appointed attorney in Texas, ensuring you can make the best decisions for your legal representation.

The First Step: Communication

Before taking any drastic measures, it's crucial to open a line of communication with your court-appointed attorney. Sometimes, misunderstandings or miscommunications can be resolved through a simple conversation. Discuss your concerns, be clear about your expectations, and see if you can reach a mutual understanding.

Real-Life Example:

Imagine you've been assigned an attorney, and you feel they're not fully grasping the nuances of your case. You could request a meeting to go over the specifics and clarify your situation. Effective communication might lead to a more satisfactory attorney-client relationship.

Review Your Case

To make an informed decision about discharging your court-appointed attorney, it's essential to have a clear understanding of your case's status and complexities. This is where the importance of knowing your legal rights comes into play.

Legal Rights of Parents

In Texas, parents involved in Child Protective Services (CPS) cases have specific legal rights. These include the right to due process, proper representation, and visitation with their children. Understanding these rights empowers you to make informed decisions about your legal representation.

Real-Life Example:

Suppose you're in a CPS case, and you believe your attorney is not adequately advocating for your visitation rights with your child. Knowing your legal rights enables you to address this concern effectively.

Consult with Another Attorney

If communication with your court-appointed attorney doesn't lead to a resolution, consider seeking a second opinion. Consult with another attorney to evaluate your case's merits and whether there are valid reasons to discharge your current representation.

Alternatives to Court

Exploring alternatives, such as mediation or family preservation services, can provide insights into the best course of action for your situation. These options might help you resolve your issues without discharging your attorney.

Real-Life Example:

Imagine consulting with another attorney who specializes in CPS cases. They might identify legal aspects that your current attorney has overlooked, giving you a clearer picture of whether a discharge is necessary.

Grounds for Discharging Your Attorney

In Texas, there are specific grounds on which you can request to discharge your court-appointed attorney. Understanding these grounds is crucial when making this decision.

Real-Life Example:

Suppose you've discovered that your attorney has a conflict of interest in your case. This is a valid ground for discharge, as your attorney should provide unbiased representation. Knowing your rights in this situation can help you take appropriate action.

Filing a Motion for Discharge

If you decide that discharging your court-appointed attorney is the best course of action, you'll need to file a motion with the court. This motion should outline the reasons for your request and be presented clearly and professionally.

The Role of the Judge

The final decision to discharge your attorney rests with the judge overseeing your case. The judge will consider your motion and the grounds you've presented before making a ruling.

Real-Life Example:

Imagine your case is in a CPS court proceeding, and you've filed a motion for discharge due to inadequate representation. The judge will evaluate your arguments and decide whether your request is justified.

What Happens Next

Once the judge has ruled in your favor and discharged your court-appointed attorney, you'll have the opportunity to secure new legal representation. It's essential to act swiftly to minimize any disruptions in your case.

Real-Life Example:

Suppose you've successfully discharged your attorney and are now seeking new representation for your CPS case. Promptly finding an attorney who understands your situation and can advocate effectively for your rights is crucial.


As we wrap up this legal journey through the Lone Star State, it's crystal clear that discharging a court-appointed attorney in Texas isn't a task to be taken lightly. It's more like plotting your escape from a labyrinth—a carefully orchestrated sequence of moves.

Imagine you're the captain of a ship navigating treacherous legal waters. Your court-appointed attorney is your trusty first mate, but sometimes, even the best first mates need to set sail to new horizons. So, what have we discovered on this nautical adventure?

Short Answer: Buckle up, Texas! Discharging your court-appointed attorney is a strategic voyage that involves communication, self-assessment, and a dash of legal finesse. With the wind at your back and your rights as your North Star, you're ready to chart your course.

  • Communication: Your legal compass should always point towards open dialogue with your attorney.
  • Review Your Case: Like a seasoned navigator, knowing your legal rights and your case's specifics is your key to smoother sailing.
  • Consult with Another Attorney: Just as you'd consult other seafarers for advice, seeking a second opinion can illuminate your path.
  • Grounds for Discharge: Ensure your reasons for departure are solid, just like a sturdy ship's hull.
  • Filing a Motion: It's like hoisting your sail—file that motion with precision.
  • Judge's Decision: The judge is your ultimate guide; their ruling shapes your course.
  • Securing New Representation: When the wind changes, act swiftly to secure your new legal captain.

So, Texas, you've got your navigation tools in hand. By embarking on this journey thoughtfully and strategically, you'll safeguard your legal rights in CPS cases. Like a masterful mariner, you're ready to set sail towards the horizon of justice. Bon voyage!

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undefinedIf 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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