Common Questions in CPS Cases

Navigating the complexities of Child Protective Services (CPS) cases can be a challenging and emotionally charged experience. One of the most critical aspects for parents and guardians is understanding what to expect during a CPS hearing. This blog aims to address the most common CPS hearing questions, offering clarity and guidance to those preparing for this significant step.

Common Questions in CPS Cases

Whether you need information on the types of questions a judge or caseworker might ask or advice on presenting your case effectively, this article offers essential insights and practical advice to assist you in navigating your CPS hearing.

Why CPS Cases Pose Unique Challenges

Of all the different family law cases you and your family could go through, I think the most frustrating and often disheartening is a Child Protective Services case. That does not mean that the case’s result will be worse than the end of a child custody, divorce, enforcement, or modification case. It’s just that hey Child Protective Services case tends to have many more questions than any other family law case in my experience. The main reason families have more questions about CPS cases is the less clear process compared to divorce or other family law cases in Texas.

A key challenge in understanding CPS cases is the predetermined pace of the case structure, largely due to the involvement of a governmental party. Once the case is underway, you understand that there are many moving pieces, and so much of the case depends on factors beyond your control. The best you can do is be as informed as possible, patient with the process, and willing to take the advice of those who have been through similar processes before. Do not underestimate how tedious your case can get due to your lack of control.

Who is Child Protective Services?

Before we go any further, I would like to take some time and explain to you who Child Protective Services is and what its function is for our state. Child Protective Services is a state agency run through the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. The stated mission of this Department is to protect vulnerable populations, specifically the elderly and children.

To further this mission, the Department of Family Protective Services employed persons whose job is 2 investigate potential cases of abuse or neglect involving minor children. That state agency is Child Protective Services.

How Does CPS Learn About Allegations of Abuse or Neglect?

In a large state like ours and with limited personnel working for the form, you may be curious about how Child Protective Services would even come to learn about allegations of abuse or neglect of a child. The answer would be that the state of Texas has options for people with information about possible instances of abuse or neglect to call, write, or email the form to discuss potential problems involving minor children. Those problems typically revolve around information having to do with abuse or neglect of a child.

Child Protective Services employees whose job is to receive these reports of abuse or neglect of a child and then determine whether or not there is sufficient information to warrant an investigation. Suppose Child Protective Services believes that there is enough evidence to warrant an investigation.

In that case, it will send investigators and caseworkers out to the location described in the phone call or email and begin collecting hard evidence. If someone reports you or your spouse to Child Protective Services, the reporter’s identity remains anonymous during the process. You cannot find out who made the report.

What Does It Mean to Be Investigated by Child Protective Services?

Common Questions in CPS Cases

Being under investigation by Child Protective Services does not automatically lead to police involvement or removal of your child from your home. An investigation simply indicates the need for gathering more information to determine whether abuse or neglect has occurred.

Child Protective Services are not police officers, and they cannot enter your home without a court order. First, I should point out that you do not have to participate in an investigation and do not even have to answer the door.

However, the agency can obtain a court order that mandates your participation in the process or your willingness to allow them access to your home. It would help if you spoke with an experienced family law attorney before making any decisions about how to proceed, given your specific circumstances.

You can participate in the process and allow the agency access to your home in many events. If there is little to no information that corroborates or substantiates the report made to them, your case will be closed out, and an abuse or neglect finding will be ruled out.

Can a CPS Case be Closed and Later Reopened Due to New Evidence?

In a Child Protective Services case, the investigation might yield insufficient evidence to support the claims. Despite Child Protective Services’ best efforts, sometimes the available evidence doesn’t suffice to make a definitive decision. In such cases, CPS might close your case, but it can reopen in the future if new evidence emerges.

Additionally, if Child Protective Services finds substantial evidence after an investigation, they may determine abuse or neglect did occur. This finding can prompt CPS to either remove your child from your home or work with you to develop a safety plan. This plan aims to keep your child in the home while you undertake steps to mitigate any identified risk of harm.

Who Will Child Protective Services Speak to During Their Investigation?

Child Protective Services commonly interviews all adults in your household, including you, your spouse, your partner, your child’s relatives, and even your adult children not involved in the abuse or neglect allegation. CPS uses their responses as evidence in the case. These interviews can take place anywhere, including your home, provided an adult over 18 living in the house gives permission.

CPS may also interview your children, the investigation’s subjects, either with your consent or at school without it. Usually, however, CPS interviews your child only after obtaining your permission or at least informing you of their intent. Remember, CPS cannot remove your child from your care without your consent, unless a court order grants CPS temporary managing conservatorship over your child.

Do I Have to Answer Interrogations by the CPS?

You are not obligated to answer any questions from Child Protective Services or consent to interviews. However, depending on your case’s circumstances, it might be in your best interest to cooperate. In situations where your child’s removal from your home is a possibility, seeking legal advice before consenting to any interviews or requests from CPS is highly advisable.

What Does a Cps Case Timeline Look Like?

As I said before, CPS cases follow a timeline but do not have much control over it. This is a surprising component of these cases for many people considering that in a divorce or child custody case, there is a great deal that a party can do to influence how quickly or slowly a lawsuit proceeds. However, there is little that you can do two dramatically speed up your case in a CPS case. Fortunately, there is a timeline that your case will follow that you should become familiar with before going to court or participating in any of the steps.

If a Child Protective Services worker finds a danger of harm to your child in an immediate sense, the agency may come and remove your child from your home. CPS must reasonably believe that you cannot protect your child from harm and that removing them from your home is the only viable option to ensure their safety.

What Happens at the Initial Emergency Hearing After a Child’s Removal by CPS?

Common Questions in CPS Cases

Typically, a judge only orders the removal of your child from your home after a hearing where you can present evidence and defend against CPS allegations. However, if CPS identifies emergency circumstances, the agency, often with police assistance, may remove your child and then conduct an emergency hearing within three days of the removal. During this hearing, the judge decides whether the emergency conditions warrant your child’s continued removal from home.

What Decisions are Made in the Adversary Hearing Regarding Temporary Custody of the Child?

Following the emergency hearing, your child remains in CPS’s temporary custody until the court holds an adversary hearing, typically about two weeks later. In this hearing, the judge either issues temporary orders regarding your child’s custody with CPS or orders the return of your child to your home. At this stage, a return of your child means that the conditions that necessitated your child’s emergency removal have either been remedied or obliterated.

How are Conservatorship, Visitation, and Child Support Determined in CPS Hearings?

In child custody or divorce cases, the judge at the hearing can establish issues like conservatorships, visitation, child support, and other requirements necessary for your child’s return. The judge often mandates steps such as attending anger management classes, undergoing rehabilitation for substance abuse, and conducting periodic drug tests as part of the criteria for your child’s return.

Two months after CPS places your child in temporary custody, the court will conduct an additional status hearing to review your progress and consider a permanent plan for your child, deciding whether to return your child to you or keep them under CPS custody.

What Happens at the 180-Day Permanency Hearing in a CPS Case?

The process becomes more extended at this stage. Approximately 180 days after your child’s removal from your home, the court conducts another hearing to review the permanency plan you and CPS have developed. If you have complied with the plan’s guidelines and mitigated any risk of harm to your child, the court may return your child to you.

Alternatively, the court might place your child with a relative while you continue working on the permanency plan and ensuring your child’s safety. If you have adhered to the temporary orders and effectively addressed the issues, the court may consider returning your child to you.

What Role Does the Status Hearing Play in Reviewing Progress and Deciding a Child’s Custody?

About 270 days after your child’s removal, the court holds another permanency hearing. If you meet the standards of your temporary orders, the court may return your child to you. The judge will assess factors such as your participation in counseling, home improvements to address any safety issues, and your adherence to the safety guidelines in your temporary orders and permanency plan.

Your attendance at counseling, improvements to the home if there is a defect or condition that is unsafe for your child, and the judge will consider things of this nature. Your active participation in the process and adherence to the safety guidelines in your temporary orders and permanency plan play a crucial role in ensuring the return of your child.

What are the Stakes at the One-Year Trial in a CPS Case?

Finally, approximately one year after your child’s removal, a trial will be had in your case for most Child Protective Services cases. Just like in any other family law case, an attempt will seek to create final orders regarding either returning your child to you or granting managing conservatorships to another person in your child’s life, like a relative or another family member.

CPS could also be assigned as the permanent Conservatory for the child, and your parental rights could be terminated if that is believed to be in your child’s best interest. Typically, this would only happen if you have not engaged in your permanency, safety, or temporary orders.

What Can You Do During a Cps Case to Increase Your Chances of Having Your Child Returned Home to You?

Even though your stress levels will be high, and you will understandably be concerned with the outcome of your CPS case, that does not mean that you can or should neglect your health. It would help if you had someone in your life that you could talk to about your case. Often, friends or family members fill in this role for people, but you may also be seeing a therapist or counselor through your CPS case. It would help if you leaned on these folks during your case so that you have an outlet to express your frustrations, hopes, and concerns.

There is so much with a CPS case that you cannot control. However, it would help if you did not focus on those things precisely and instead look to those areas of the case that you have direct and immediate control over. Most specifically, you have control over your attitude, your ambitions, and your future. Remember that some changes you will want to see happen take time in that progress is not always as immediate as we may like.

Things like finding steady work, removing drugs and alcohol from your life, cleaning up your home, and solidifying your living situation can take time but are also things you have control over. Do not disregard the little things you can control, and then be patient with the big picture concepts you have less control over.

Final Thoughts

In closing, learning as much as you can about your rights within a CPS case is probably the most crucial step in this entire process. I can tell you from experience that those who come into a case with no knowledge of the legal system and precisely with no understanding of CPS cases or at a significant disadvantage. If you could understand the basics of a CPS case, what your role in the case is and how your actions can influence how quickly your child is returned home to you, then you will be better off.

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

if you have any questions about the material in today’s blog post</a>; 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 person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are an excellent way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and the services that our law practice can provide to you and your family as clients of ours.

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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 CPS is investigating your spouse in Texas for abuse or neglect of your child?
  12. Can CPS photograph your house and request your child’s medical records in Texas?

 

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