Going through a CPS case can be one of the most intimidating experiences that a parent must face. The idea that your relationship with your child could be adversely affected by a group of people that you have never even met before can be extremely stressful. To be in that position because your child has been abused or neglected makes the situation even more stressful. This is a position that no parent can ever Say that they are glad that they went through. However, the process can be managed well if you are prepared.
A CPS case would begin with a person making an anonymous report of abuse or neglect of your child to The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. From there, the state agency would investigate the matter to determine whether a theory is sufficient evidence available to corroborate the information presented in the report. Note that reports can be made hi there over the phone or on the Internet. Do not expect that you will ever learn the identity of the person who made a report regarding your child.
If CPS determines there is sufficient evidence to warrant a full investigation of the abuse or neglect, then it is likely that CPS will assign a caseworker or investigator to your child's situation. Many times, an investigation begins with Investigator coming to your home to introduce themselves and notify you of the pending investigation. At this stage, you have a few options to consider. First, you do not have to let the person into your home. Without a search warrant, there is nothing mandatory about speaking to the CPS employee or letting him or her into your home. Additionally, you do not have to allow your child to have contact with the investigator.
Or you may choose to allow the person into your home and talk to him or her about the investigation. Answering questions truthfully and providing information may be enough to help CPS conclude that there are not sufficient grounds to continue with their investigation. CPS will have the option to not continue with an investigation band can stop their contact with your family at that moment. You would be notified in writing of the conclusion of your case it would not be contacted any further by CPS.
On the other hand, CPS may determine that there are sufficient grounds to find that your child was abused or neglected. Depending upon your involvement in that abuse or neglect your child may be eligible for removal from your home. To be in this position, an attorney for CPS would need to obtain a court order detailing the nature of your case in requesting that CPSB be named as the temporary conservator of your child. If granted that order, then CPS could remove your child temporarily.
What happens once your child is removed from your home?
If your child is removed from your home, then a hearing must be held within three days of their removal to allow for you to request that you shall be returned home to you. As soon as CPS files it's not a suit the process begins where you will find yourself in family law or juvenile law court. The purpose of these hearings it's for the judge to check on the status of your case as far as CPS meets its burden of proving that the best interests of your child are served by continued removal. CPS would remain as a temporary conservator of your child during this time.
The judge in your case will want to talk with all the parties involved to obtain information about what happened after your child was removed from your home. It is not ideal for your child to be in the temporary care of CPS. This is a strange environment for your child and a major disruption to their everyday lives. However, it may be determined that it is in your child's best interest for him or to not be in your home at least temporarily. This first CPS hearing will be used to determine whether the same circumstances are in place that justified the removal of your child from your home.
Next, the judge will want to consider what you are doing to address the concerns raised by the CPS investigation. There is a wide range of issues that may have led to your child being removed from your home. To begin with, your child may have been removed because it was found that you abused or neglected him or her. This abuse could be physical or sexual. The neglect may have been your inaction of yours that led to your child being abused by another or simply is a defect in the home that is dangerous to the well-being of your child.
Along the way, CPS we'll work with you to develop a plan intended to have your child be returned home to you if indeed that is the go it is created by the two of you. If that is the goal of your case, you will be allowed to update the family court judge on what progress you have made in completing the steps necessary to have your child returned home. It is unlikely that the process can be completed by this initial hearing, but you can show what steps you have taken to improve the conditions in your home at the very least.
Additionally, CPS will be able to show the family court judge what steps they have taken to help you have your child returned home to you in the shortest possible time. This could involve having you work with a counselor or mental health professional to overcome any issues that may have arisen in your life that affected your parenting. Things like a safety plan or family-based social services can help a great deal in terms of your being able to show that you are competent to care for your child on an ongoing basis.
Attendance at the initial hearing in front of CPS is extremely important for you to take seriously. You and your attorney need to be present at every hearing held by CPS. However, the initial hearing would be an especially bad hearing to not be present for. You should assume that if you are not present for this initial hearing that a family court judge will not allow your child to be returned home to you. You should create a calendar for yourself and make sure that you are prepared for each hearing whatever it comes up.
This means having available transportation to and from the hearing taking into consideration Disruptions in your schedule, traffic, and things of this nature. A family court judge is not responsible for providing you with transportation or for not holding hearings at convenient times for you. Rather, you were on the court schedule and should be mindful of that. You need to become an expert at planning and accounting for unseen and unforeseen issues if you want to give yourself a good opportunity to present yourself well to a judge.
The reality of the situation is that court hearings can and will start without you present. In March counties like Harris County, you will be told to appear in court for a morning docket that usually begins around 9 am. However, it is anyone's guess when your hearing will be called. Usually, the court will call the oldest cases first, and then we'll Move on to more recent cases. However, you should be ready to go from the moment that your judge takes their seat on the bench.
At the initial hearing with CPS as well as after every hearing after that point, the judge will sign a court order listing out the responsibilities of you and CPS. You should make sure that you have a copy of the order after every hearing. Having a copy of the order and understanding what your responsibilities are moving forward is extremely important. You should speak with your attorney or even a representative of CPS if you do not understand something.
How long can you expect your CPS case to last?
By law in Texas, most CPS cases cannot last longer than 12 months. Your CPS case can be shorter if CPS moves for dismissal based on changing circumstances that you may be facing. For example, if you participated fully in the investigation, completed any safety planning that you were involved with, and CPS has no reservations about returning your child home to you your case may be dismissed. This put allows your child to be returned home to you in the case would be closed. You should talk with your attorney about how to position yourself as well as possible for this to be the result of your case.
In addition to hearings in court, there will also be permanency planning meetings that happened outside of court. These meetings can occur at the offices of CPS or other locations. You and the CPS representatives will be able to talk about and she's like where your child will live during the case as well as what goals are being set to ensure your child a safer home environment. In this way, you will be given a great deal of authority in terms of having an opportunity to have your child returned home sooner rather than later.
These hearings are held outside of court and the judge in your case will not be present. A record will not be kept of any of the discussions in these meetings, either. In that way, you will have the ability to process information and give honest feedback without fear of a judge being present.
What is an adversarial hearing?
An adversarial hearing involves you being able to approach a family court judge for the first time after your child is removed from your home.
This is an important hearing in that you will have the opportunity to present a case as to why your child should be returned home and why CPS should not be able to extend their temporary conservatorship over your child. It would be best to have an attorney for this hearing so that you can present a clear-cut case for the return of your child. The reality is that if your child is not returned home to you in this hearing it could be a very long time, at least a few months before your child can come home to you. Your best bet is to present a strong case in this hearing and give the judge some reason to consider why it is not appropriate for CPS to be the continued conservator of your child.
This hearing will take place within 14 days of when CPS removes your child from your home. CPS will speak to the judge about why your child was removed from the home. You or your lawyer will have the opportunity to tell the judge why the rationale provided by CPS is insufficient to continue to keep your child out of your house or why their rationale is not factual. You may be surprised to learn that the justification for the continued removal of a child can be rather small or based on shoddy information. For this reason, he will have an opportunity to present a countercase to the judge about why your child should be able to be returned to you immediately. The judge will consider the evidence and decide that is in the best interests of your child.
If CPS has not provided enough evidence the judge can dismiss the petition for them to be a continued caretaker of your child and your child will be returned home to you immediately. On the other hand, if the judge determines that CPS has provided him or her with enough evidence then CPS will continue as your child's temporary managing conservator. This does not mean that CPS will always have conservatorships authority over your child or that your parental rights have been terminated. However, it does mean that for the time being CPS will be able to have primary decision-making responsibility for your child. The case will continue, and you will need to follow through with whatever safety planning has been created and wanted to have your child returned home.
Additionally, CPS will submit an order to the court that will tell you and the judge where your child will live, if any child support needs to be paid by you as well as a visitation schedule for you to be able to follow up within the future.
There may also be requirements for you to undergo drug or alcohol testing or even two submit to other assessments like psychiatric tests. Whether or not you participated in this process will be followed through with at the next hearing. Bear in mind that your ability to have your child returned home hinges a great deal on following through with the court orders. Even if you think that the court orders are unjust or based on lies once the judge signs are named to the order it becomes extremely important for you to follow them. Your failure to follow them could result in the termination of your parental rights. It may feel like a bad dream once you are involved in a CPS case, but the reality is that if you find yourself dealing with one you need to treat it as if it is the most serious matter, he will ever face in your parenting life.
The idea that circumstances are beyond your control once you get involved in a CPS case is simply not true. Thinking this way may be helpful in terms of helping you to justify why your child was removed from your home but it will do nothing to help you get your child back. Rather, only accepting your situation for what it is and working with CPS will get your child back.
Much of the time the recommendations made by CPS will be extremely reasonable and do not take much effort at all to fulfill. It may even be that you simply need to repair a problem with your home that was dangerous and present your child with the threat of harm. Whatever it is, you need to be prepared to work with the agency especially if your child is not returned home to you after these initial permanency hearings.
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 presented in 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 person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.
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- Take control of your child’s CPS case by following these tips
- How to stand up for yourself during a Texas CPS case
- How to prevent a second CPS investigation after your first concludes
- Family Law Cases in Texas: The final stages of a CPS case
- When can CPS remove your child from your home in Texas and what can you do about it?
- What to do if you no longer like your CPS service plan?
- In what circumstances could your child end up living with your relative during a CPS case?
- What can a CPS investigation into your family mean now and in the future?
- What to do if your spouse is being investigated by CPS in Texas for abuse or neglect of your child?
- 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.