Understanding the basic steps of a CPS investigation should be one of the first things you investigate as you and your family become involved with the agency. It is a lot more straightforward for you to understand what can happen during a CPS case rather than guess what the outcome of a case may be. Often, our concerns and fears about the possible outcomes of something like a CPS case can be based on conjecture and fear-based guesses rather than on facts and likely outcomes. While you don't have to know everything they can know about a CPS case, it is still essential for you to be aware of what may happen with your child as the result of a case.
A status hearing is one of the most critical steps in a CPS case. These status hearings will assess service and diligent search efforts for your co-parent if they are missing. This would include any men who may be the father of your child but have not been legally determined as such. This is a crucial point to be aware of if you gave birth to a child whose father is unknown. The law does not presume that any man is the father of your child unless you are married to him. Otherwise, you and a man will need to both complete an acknowledgment of paternity to establish paternity rights in this individual.
An essential part of these status hearings, of which there will likely be more than one during your CPS case, is that the judge will be able to consider evidence presented both by you and by CPS as to what should be ordered in terms of visitation, possession, and child support. Making medical decisions is a necessary right for you or any other conservator of your child. A judge can and should give conservators of your child the right to make decisions so that your child receives the sort of care that they need even if they are out of your home for a certain period.
Once CPS is named as the temporary managing conservator of your child, this is not a right that the agency will have forever, necessarily. Instead, the agency must set the case for a hearing no later than 180 days after CPS is granted conservatorship rights to your child. This gives you some peace of mind that the state cannot possess your child into perpetuity. The status hearing will also allow you to address the judge directly regarding the service plan. It is recommended that you have an attorney to advocate on your behalf. The judge, the state's attorney, and any other lawyer/expert assigned to the case will likely know each other well. By hiring an attorney, you avail yourself of all of the advantages of having a lawyer who can negotiate with the opposing side.
Home studies before a status hearing
A home study can be a critical part of your CPS case. The trouble with home studies is that they can take some time to complete and play a significant role in a typical CPS case. A therapist, counselor, social worker, or some combination of the three will be the person who ultimately conducts the home study. The study's contents will be broken down and synthesized into a report containing the person's placement recommendations.
Sometimes, a home study cannot be completed because your co-parent is in jail or prison. The attorney ad litem cannot exactly waltz into a prison cell to see how your co-parent lives. However, that does not mean that due to their being behind bars, the co-parent does not have a right to receive notices regarding hearing dates or other necessary steps and phases of a case involving your child and CPS. Fortunately, video technology is much improved these days, and your co-parent can attend meetings over his phone or in a video/telecom room at the jail or prison.
What questions will a CPS attorney ask during a status hearing?
To me, I would want to know the sort of questions that the opposing side may ask an attorney ad litem or guardian ad litem. Understanding how the prosecution will approach the case will help you prepare and provide you with some peace of mind.
First, CPS will ask if any cultural issues need special consideration. For example, CPS caseworkers and attorneys are charged with understanding the cultural subtext for your case and helping to meet your child where they are in terms of their cultural heritage or customs. This can have a dramatic impact on your child's health and well-being. If there are no cultural or religious issues apparent in the case, then CPS can move on to more pressing matters that are relevant to your child's best interests.
What prevents your child from returning home with you that day is the next question that a CPS attorney will be responsible for considering. During a CPS case, there are many factors in play that the judge will be tasked with answering. Looking through the case and deciding about conservatorship is incredibly important. The presumption that you are making decisions in the best interests of your child. If CPS' lawyer rebuts that presumption, then they will increase the likelihood that your child will not be returned home any time soon.
Finally, family law and CPS cases specifically are incredibly fact-dependent. We can talk all day and night about the judge-made law or statutes from codebooks. However, the facts and circumstances of your case will have as much to do with the judge's decision as any law or statute. This is another crucial reason why a judge needs to know about the specifics of your case rather than relying upon assumptions or conjecture.
What happens at the end of a status hearing?
At the end of a status hearing, a judge will have several responsibilities laid at his feet. The judge will need to inform you that your conservatorship rights can be restricted or terminated if you fail to participate in the CPS case. That means adhering to any safety plans or visitation with your child at the agreed-upon dates and times. This is serious business and can impact your ability to continue to have a relationship with your child. If some element of your service plan is not working for you, then that is something that you should speak to your attorney about before the hearing. A judge can modify safety or service plans based on likely changes that need to be made. A permanency hearing will need to be sent within 120 days of the status hearing- or sooner. Dates for dismissal of the case and any upcoming hearings will need to be disclosed at this time.
What should a court consider if their placement needs to be updated?
Sometimes throughout a CPS case, your child will need to have their living situation updated. If this happens in your CPS case, you have a few choices to consider. CPS will need to determine where your child wants to attend school. If being with friends, extracurricular activities or any other reasonable factor sways a judge, then your child will likely be able to switch placement locations from relative to another relative, for example.
A judge will also examine what sort of transportation is available for your child if they desire a move to another location. For example, how would your child get to school each day if their location were moved? Your child may be staying in a home where the local elementary school is inside that neighborhood. However, how would your child's life change in the future? If the child's school were moved across town? These are the sort of considerations that you need to address directly with the judge if your child's living circumstances are modified during a CPS case. While this won't be the primary concern of CPS, it certainly will matter and can make a difference.
We would also need to look towards issues of general normalcy for your child. Page judge, we'll need to make decisions that lookout for the best interest of your child. Suppose those best interests involve extracurricular activities and school friends. In that case, You should not be pushing too hard to modify your child's living circumstances unless it means Allowing your child to come home to live with you. Otherwise, the circumstances of every child's education, extracurricular activities, and logistics regarding making sure your child can get to and from school without much issue should be at the forefront of this evaluation.
Monitoring a return of your child to your home
At a certain point during A CPS case, the court will need to terminate whether your child will be allowed to return home. If the court has not granted an extension of the 12-month deadline to dismiss your case or hold the trial, some form of monitored return to your home will be likely for your child. These monitored returns involve CPS keeping tabs on your child to make sure that they adjust well to your home life.
The final hearing in a CPS case
A trial must occur, or an extension must be granted before the first anniversary of the date that CPS was named the temporary managing conservator of your child. If a trial is not begun or an extension granted by the state, the court will lose jurisdiction over the case, and the lawsuit will be dismissed. It is unlikely that this outcome will occur in your case, but it is nonetheless something to keep in mind. Your attorney will be negotiating with the state regarding a return of your child's home-based at whatever stage your case is in.
The goal of a trial for CPS would be to obtain a final order that is consistent with your child's permanency plan before the date where your case would need to be dismissed. If CPS requests the parental air rights be terminated, then the burden of proof is clearing convincing evidence. This is a high burden to meet. However, this makes sense given the severity of the request regarding having your parental rights terminated.
All parties involved in a final hearing will attempt to determine your child's best interests. It is a dramatic statement to say that terminating appearance parental rights is in the best interests of a child. However, this may be true depending upon the specific circumstances of your case. Your child's age and physical and mental vulnerabilities, frequency, and nature of out-of-home placements, as well as their history of abusive or assaultive conduct by your child's family, will play a role in determining the best interest of your child. Unfortunately, the issue of substance abuse in your child's home may be a relevant factor, as well.
Termination of parental rights requires evidence of at least one ground per termination of parental rights against a parent and evidence that termination is in the child's best interest. This is pulled directly from the Texas family code. The risk that CPS runs in requesting that your parental rights be terminated is that that request could be granted by a trial judge and then overturned on appeal. This would allow your child to come home. Given this possibility, CPS will likely ask for an alternative arrangement if their request for termination is not approved.
What can happen if you do not show up to a final hearing?
You may be shocked to learn, but it is possible that a parent may not show up to a final hearing or trial. There are many reasons for this, and there's something for you to guard against if you find yourself in a CPS case. If you do not show up, then the attorney for CPS will seek a default judgment against you. To do so, the CPS attorney will need to show the judge that you were properly served with notice of the hearing. Proof of citation and no answer from you must have been on file with the court for at least ten days before a final hearing.
If the state is seeking termination of your parental rights, it must show that it has the evidence to support at least one of the termination grounds. Additionally, the state must show that termination of parental rights is in your child's best interests. The state must also show that due diligence was utilized to locate you and what evidence was introduced to show that effort was utilized to locate you.
Once an answer has been filed, the state's requirement to provide you with a specific type of notice becomes less critical. This is since once you file an answer or otherwise participate in the court proceedings, it is more difficult for you to argue that you were not given proper notice or that there were other defects in documents filed previously with the court. If you come back after termination is approved by a judge and a trial in an attempt to challenge the default judgment, CPS would likely agree to your being granted a new trial rather than risk losing in the otherwise solid case due to procedural errors.
What do you need to know about child support regarding a CPS case?
As the parent to a child in Texas, you must support your child. In a CPS case, the court can order either you, your Co-parent or both of you to pay child support. Child support can be ordered until your child turns 18 years of age or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. Child support can also be ordered until your child is emancipated through marriage, removal or disabilities, or minority by a court order or until your child passes away.
You would be ordered to pay child support move up to 40% of your net monthly income in child support a united minimum of 20%. The last thing I wanted to mention about child support is that even if you are not working, a court will assign you child support based on the assumption that you can run minimum wage. So, the argument that you have not been working will be insufficient, and You will still be ordered to pay child support.
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 contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law turns ease off her 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 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 CPS investigates your spouse 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 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 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.