If Child Protective Services (CPS) becomes a part of your life, it is understandable to feel many different emotions all at once. You are likely some combination of angry, upset, stressed out, and even embarrassed.
Your family life is now being examined by strangers and has thrown your routines into disarray. You’ve never even been ticketed for a speeding violation in your entire life- now a CPS investigator is asking you questions about the possibility that you or your spouse abused or neglected your child.
Your work has understood the time crunch you’ve been going through, but even they have become impatient and less accommodating in recent days. You are receiving phone calls from different people with CPS all day long and even have to miss work to attend meetings and counseling sessions. It could be that for years you’ve looked for a job with this kind of stability, but now a CPS investigation threatens everything you’ve worked hard for.
Finally- you don’t even know if the CPS investigation will treat you and your spouse fairly. They haven’t communicated what is being alleged to neglect or abuse your child so far. You can’t for the life of you picture an incident that resulted in your child being in harm’s way. Regardless- you understand that someone contacted CPS to allege that your child has been abused or neglected.
A detailed explanation of a CPS case is what you will find in this series of blog posts.
If you have no idea what goes into a CPS investigation or the people involved in working with your family, please stay tuned to this upcoming series of blog posts. The anxiety surrounding a CPS case can be overwhelming because you don’t know what to expect, but you are under the impression that your child can be removed from your house with no apparent chance to get them back anytime soon.
To work with CPS on an investigation into your family can be confusing and frustrating. However, we hope that you can learn about this vital subject in these blog posts and feel better prepared to advocate for yourself, your spouse, and, most importantly, your child.
A CPS case can impact your relationship with your child forever
You can be an involved, honest and good parent and still risk losing your rights to your child in a CPS case. It does not matter if you were a Girl Scout mom or led youth groups at your local church.
The fact remains that the law empowers CPS to make decisions and begin legal processes that can end up in the termination of your parental rights should the allegations made against you be substantiated and a court believe it to be in the best interests of your child that they not be returned to your home.
Fortunately for you and your spouse, if your case does end up going to court, the case itself is kept on a timeline that forces CPS to complete the process in twelve months or less.
That means that you would theoretically have one year to convince a family court judge that it is in the best interests of your child that they are returned to your home to live with you permanently. Acting quickly and making good decisions from the outset of a case is critically important because, as any lawyer will tell you, a year can fly by. However, your child will feel like the year has lasted an eternity while they live either with relatives or in foster care.
Stages of a CPS case
We’ve discussed in general terms how a CPS case works, but I would like to help you pinpoint just where you are in the process based on your family’s circumstances.
After all, I cannot say if you are beginning your case or are already towards the end and near the conclusion.
What are the paths that your CPS case can go down?
At the outset of a CPS case, you will find yourself in the middle of an investigation after a report of abuse or neglect was made to the agency. A caseworker will come to your home to ask you and your family questions in an attempt to learn more about possible risks to the safety and well-being of your child. The results of the investigation will dictate the next steps in the process. The investigation could be closed almost immediately if no evidence is found to substantiate the allegations.
On the other hand, if the evidence is developed that substantiates the allegations of abuse or neglect, your family may be referred to something called Family-Based Social Services (FBSS). This is a “middle ground” for parents being investigated for abuse or neglect.
On the one hand, it has been found that there are unsafe conditions in your home and that further CPS involvement is warranted. On the other hand, those conditions are not so dangerous or dire that your child will need to be removed from your care and placed into the temporary care of CPS. Your child can often continue to live in your home while you work with CPS to resolve the dangerous condition.
If the condition warrants removal of your child based on a clear and present danger to their emotional or physical well-being, your child will be taken from your home after a court has given CPS temporary managerial rights to them. There will be assigned from CPS to work with you and your family at this stage. It is recommended that you hire an attorney to represent you and your family if your child is removed from your home.
Let’s skip to the end: How can your CPS case conclude?
Your case with CPS can conclude with either your parental rights being terminated, your child remaining in CPS custody despite your rights not being terminated, or your child being returned to you and your family.
Your parental rights can either be terminated voluntarily or involuntarily. A trial in which CPS proves that it is in your child’s best interests that you lose any right to make decisions on their behalf would result in an involuntary termination of your parental rights. During the case, it may become apparent that you are not in a position to care for a child and may voluntarily waive your rights to your child. This is a difficult decision and does not happen very often.
It sometimes happens that a CPS case concludes with your child not being returned to your home but your parental rights not being terminated either. CPS would become the Permanent Managing Conservators of your child and would remain in foster care in this situation. A relative of yours could be where your child stays for the foreseeable future as well. You will still be able to have a say in the decisions made regarding your child, but CPS would have special rights in this regard.
Questions on a CPS investigation? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
If CPS has been contacted about any allegations against you or your spouse, please get in touch with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, immediately. You must act quickly and decisively when your relationship with your child is threatened. We can help you sort through the issues of your case and chart a course to have your child returned to your home if they have already been removed. A free-of-charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys is only a phone call away.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Help your child and yourself in a Child Protective Services case by remaining actively involved
- Maintaining a positive outlook during a CPS investigation in Texas
- Family Law Cases in Texas: Examining the steps in a Child Protective Services case
- 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
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas CPS Defense Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding CPS, it’s essential 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 the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, 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.