Concluding Your CPS Case in Texas: What Will Your Trial Experience Be Like?

In recent days, we’ve navigated the courtroom journey of your CPS case, from initial hearings to mediation. Today, we unveil the final step: the crucial CPS trial phase where decisions are made. Join us as we unravel the complexities of this pivotal stage.

The Texas Family Code requires the judge to issue a final order for your child within one year of their removal from your home. In rare cases, the judge may grant a six-month extension, based on the child’s best interests.

Pursuing permanency: understanding CPS extensions

Rare extensions occur because the law prioritizes child permanency in residence. Since your child has been in limbo for a year as far as where they will be living, it is reasonable to expect a judge will not want to cause your child to have to wait another six months to find out their fate.

During this time, the court will be deciding one question. Most likely it is about whether or not your parental rights are going to be terminated. If your case has progressed this far, severe abuse or neglect likely warrants consideration for terminating your parental rights. Another crucial aspect is determining your child’s residence post-case. Options include foster care, group homes, relatives’ or friends’ homes. Adoption is also a possibility if someone is willing to adopt your child after termination.

What a trial looks like from the ground level

Once you are in court for your trial, the court will hear from witnesses involved in your case. They’ll assess other evidence to determine if you’ve followed your service plan to the expected extent.

Can you be a safe parent? That’s the judge’s ultimate decision. The judge considers what’s best for your child now and in the future. Understanding your case, safety plan, and obligations is crucial. Failure risks losing your child’s custody.

A trial can last for multiple days. You will need to be present for the entire length of the trial. You should take off work to do so, if necessary. The trial outcome involves a judge signing final orders. These could entail returning your child home, appointing another person as the managing conservator with some of your rights retained, or terminating your parental rights entirely.

Once your parental rights are terminated, you would have no say-so over where your child ends up living. You know a relative or other person could be awarded conservatorship rights to your child in this instance. Or, your child could be placed into the permanent care of CPS and then adopted by a relative, friend, foster parent, or another person.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about attending court in a CPS case

Chances are, you’ve never been in a courtroom before, let alone a courthouse. If so, you likely have questions about navigating the process. Before we move on to other CPS-related topics, let’s address some common concerns to ease your mind before your court visit.

What if you don’t have a way of getting to court? If you lack transportation to court on your hearing or trial day, it’s essential to plan ahead. You should have advance notice of the hearing date, so inquire about transportation options early. Don’t hesitate to ask multiple people for help if needed. If your hearing is set to begin at 9:00, you should plan to arrive in court by 8:30.

You can also speak to CPS about getting a ride to the hearing on a city bus- if one is available in your area. You may need to travel some way to a bus stop to get a ride, but that is much better than having to postpone a hearing or otherwise miss the hearing completely. While it can be frustrating, it can appear to a judge that you do not take your case seriously if you do not attend every court appearance.

Early is on time when it comes to attending a courthouse hearing.

Leave early from your house the morning of your hearing. If you live in Houston, then you know how bad traffic can be. Plan for something to go wrong on the morning of your hearing and leave yourself plenty of time to avoid accidents on the roads, find parking, go through security and then make it to your courtroom in plenty of time for a hearing. As I mentioned a moment ago, if your hearing starts at 9, you should plan on being seated by 8:30. Your case may not get called until much later in the day, but you should not plan on having the luxury of arriving late.

Is there a dress code when it comes to making a court appearance?

While it is true that not everyone in court shows up in a three-piece suit, it is better to be over-dressed than underdressed. In your case, the judge will not expect you to go out and buy a new outfit for court, but at the same time, he will expect you not to come in your pajama bottoms and a hoodie. Find a middle ground, and you will be fine, as far as your dress is concerned. Wearing what you would wear to a job interview or church is a safe bet to make.

For men, this could mean wearing slacks and a collared shirt- always tucked in. Dress shoes rather than tennis shoes are recommended but, at the very least, plan on wearing a collared shirt and tucking it into your jeans or slacks. If you have tattoos, you should plan on wearing clothing that will cover them up. For women, dress pants and a nice shirt work well. A dress (not too short with a conservative neckline) is another option that would suit you well for a hearing. You may have options that look more fashionable in your closet but leave the more fashion-forward choices at home instead of something your grandmother would like better.

Should you plan on being in court all day for your hearing?

There is no perfect answer to this question, unfortunately. Each judge will call their docket differently. Many courts call their oldest cases. First, many of them do not. If yours is a recently filed case, you may not get your case called until lunchtime or later. I have had many CPS cases with clients in Harris County, where we did not get called until almost three o’clock in the afternoon. The point is that you cannot predict when your case will get called, and so you need to be prepared to be at the courthouse all day, potentially. This means letting your employer know well in advance of your need to take off work. Child care arrangements will need to be made, as well.

Do you need to bring anything with you to court?

Clients often ask me this question. Some keep detailed notes, calendars, and photos since their child’s birth. My wife, for instance, has kept clothing from when our kids were very young. Each baby wore the same outfit home from the hospital as the one before them. Parents believe these sentimental artifacts can influence a judge.

In reality, they don’t. Don’t bring photo albums or similar items. You’ll spend the hearing searching through them, missing the chance to present crucial evidence. Instead of old photos, focus on progress in meeting service plan obligations. Have you been sober for a year? Attended anger management weekly? Fixed your child’s bedroom roof? These are the facts to emphasize.

Otherwise, it is a good idea to bring something to occupy your time with. As I mentioned earlier, you may end up spending some time waiting for your case to be called. A book is a great thing to bring. Magazines can be a distraction and are noisy so leave those at home. Before you assume that you can turn your phone to silent and watch videos, many judges do not allow persons in the court (other than attorneys) to have cell phones out when a court is in session. Your judge’s bailiff will be roaming the gallery and looking for violators of this rule. The confiscation of cell phones is not unheard of.

Finally- do not bring food to your hearing or trial. Water most likely will not be allowed to get past security. Firearms, even if they have a license to carry, need to remain at home as well.


As we conclude our exploration of the CPS case journey, we arrive at the pivotal CPS trial, marking the culmination of a complex legal process. Throughout the preceding stages, from initial hearings to mediation, we’ve witnessed the intricate steps involved in resolving CPS cases. Now, as we step into the trial phase, the stakes are at their highest, with decisions that can profoundly impact the lives of all involved parties, particularly the child in question. It’s imperative to approach the CPS trial with diligence, preparation, and the guidance of legal counsel, as it represents the final opportunity to present evidence, advocate for rights, and ultimately shape the outcome of the case.

More frequently asked questions will be answered in tomorrow’s blog post.

I will touch on a few more frequently asked questions tomorrow and provide you with answers based on my experience in courtrooms across southeast Texas. In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding the content of today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan.

Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in our office. These consultations are a great opportunity to ask questions and address your needs in a comfortable and pressure-free environment. Our attorneys and staff take a great deal of pride in representing people in our community, just like you. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you and your family.


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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. What to Do When CPS Asks for a Drug Test in Texas
  2. CPS and how The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC can help
  3. Take control of your child’s CPS case by following these tips
  4. How to stand up for yourself during a Texas CPS case
  5. How to prevent a second CPS investigation after your first concludes
  6. Family Law Cases in Texas: The final stages of a CPS case
  7. When can CPS remove your child from your home in Texas and what can you do about it?
  8. What to do if you no longer like your CPS service plan?
  9. In what circumstances could your child end up living with your relative during a CPS case?
  10. What can a CPS investigation into your family mean now and in the future?
  11. What to do if your spouse is being investigated by CPS in Texas for abuse or neglect of your child?
  12. Can CPS photograph your house and request your child’s medical records in Texas?

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 important 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 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.

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