All family law cases are stressful, but only one type of family law has the removal of your child from your home as a distinct possibility. In a Child Protective Services case, all the fears and anxiety associated with the case can come out to the forefront of your mind. On top of having to deal with a government agency and the concerns that you may have over whether your child will be removed from your home, you may run into a situation where your parental rights themselves are in danger. If that isn't enough to make you pay attention, then I don’t know what is.
For us to consider all the different aspects of a CPS case would take all day and all night. A CPS case impacts the most essential areas of your parenting life. The relationships that we have with our children are wholly unique and individual to us and our kids. To assume that this relationship will always be there would be a mistake. As a result, we work at our parenting and do what it takes to sacrifice so that we always have the sort of strong, structured relationship with our children that leaves no doubt about whether that bond will stand the test of time.
However, one wrong move, one mistake, or one instance where someone saw something that did not happen can be enough to end that relationship, potentially. This is not to say that in every CPS case there is a high likelihood that a child will be removed from the parent’s home or that he or she could have their relationship harmed or even terminated with the child. However, when the outcomes of this type of case are that broad you need to take notice.
In today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we are going to discuss what it means to be involved with a CPS case. What the outcomes may look like and what CPS can and cannot do about you and your child. When you are doing reading with us then I recommend you contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to discuss what hiring an attorney from our office can do to help your care. Worrying about a CPS case that you are involved with is normal, but I do not recommend that you stop there. Rather, take steps to protect your child and your relationship with him or her. Hiring an attorney and reading this blog post is a good place to start.
What could a CPS mean to you and your family?
When it comes to a CPS case, it is one thing for you to think you know what to expect. It is another thing altogether for you to know well what the case will mean to you and your family. Many people struggle when faced with the challenges of a CPS case and understandably so. CPS cases are not clear-cut in terms of what you are going up against. At least in a divorce, you know who the opposing party is. In a CPS case, you are left wondering what are forces working against you? You will work with a CPS caseworker or investigator but otherwise, you may not have any contact with the agency.
The next question that many people ask regarding a CPS case is what powers the agency has. You may have heard horror stories from people in your life about what the agency can do to you or your children if you have been found to have abused or neglected them. However, all that matters is what happens in your case. If the removal of your children from your home is a distinct possibility, then you need to know this. On the other hand, if the risk of having your children removed from your home is minimal then this is also something that you should be aware of.
CPS cases involve judges but not in the same way that a divorce or child custody case does. In a CPS case, the judge oversees the process as determined well before the hearing dates are set. This is because a CPS case has certain benchmarks that must be met along the way of your case. If you meet the milestones that are laid out regarding CPS cases. Initial hearings, permanency hearings, and even trials. All these events happen after so many days have elapsed with your case. It is not going to be a surprise when you have court. The schedule for CPS cases will be made available to you from the beginning.
When a CPS caseworker knocks on your door it is normal to have a wide range of emotions. Fear is understandable. Being fearful of what CPS is there for is a normal reaction. Not fully understanding what CPS can and cannot do regarding your relationship with your child is another perfectly normal reaction to a CPS case. Even not understanding what CPS does and how they found out any information about your child can be a completely normal reaction all things considered.
CPS learns about incidents of alleged abuse or neglect of children through anonymous reports made to their hotline. The reporters remain anonymous to protect them from retaliation and to encourage others to report incidents of abuse or neglect if seen in their community. Since CPS cannot have an agent or investigator at every corner, they rely upon people in the community to be their eyes and ears. Do not assume that what CPS has in terms of evidence is even substantial. CPS will investigate the report and determine whether there is sufficient evidence to pursue a case. If not, then CPS can close the investigation. A letter is typically sent to you to evidence that the case has been closed.
Do you have to talk to CPS if an investigator comes to your door?
If a CPS caseworker knocks on the door of your home, then there is likely a problem that you need to address in some regard. Sometimes the reports made to CPS are correct. If your child is being abused or neglected, then the agency is there to help protect your child. Families like yours work alongside CPS every day to improve the quality of their homes to that their children can remain in the home and that their parental rights are never put into question.
A CPS caseworker will likely come to your door to speak to you about a report made regarding your child. At this stage in the case, it is unlikely that the agency will have a warrant that forces you to allow him or her access to your home. In short, you are well within your rights to never speak to CPS. However, it may look negative if you choose to not participate in their investigation. Do not assume that nothing bad can happen to you unless you actively participate in the case. On the contrary, many of the events of your CPS case increase the likelihood that the agency can and will remove your children. The biggest thing for us to keep track of in a CPS case is what the case means to your children now and in the future.
If CPS ever decides to follow through with the removal of your child, then it will need to have a plan and set that plan into motion. A CPS caseworker cannot simply march up to your door, show their badge to you, and then remove your child from the home. Rather, a judge must permit them to do so through a court order. Short of obtaining a court order from a judge, the CPS caseworker cannot remove your child from your home. Since this is typically an early problem in CPS cases I wanted to emphasize it at this stage in the blog post.
A hearing can be held with the CPS court judge very quickly after initiating an investigation into you, your spouse, and your child. It is not likely for a judge to permit the removal of your child from your home unless the evidence points towards that being a necessity to preserve the health and safety of your child. For this, the judge would look to the written evidence of the report, any other circumstances involved about your family, and the type of harm suffered by your child. If the circumstances dictate it your child can be removed from your house.
When and if CPS comes to your house to remove your child it will typically do so with the court order and with a police officer or constable. This is done for their protection as well as the protection of your child. Many parents will attempt to stop the removal of their child even after being made aware of the court order from a judge. For this reason, law enforcement will seek to ensure that you are not going to provide this interference or even take greater steps such as leaving the home with the child. Even faced with these types of circumstances it would be a good idea to cooperate as fully as possible with the investigation even if that means allowing your child to be removed.
Having your child removed from your house does not have to be a permanent or even longstanding event. Rather, you can work within the CPS case to have your child returned to your home quickly. However, you need to be able to remedy whatever situation is leading CPS to believe that your child is in harm’s way if allowed to remain in your home. This may be something that you disagree with vehemently, but you will have an opportunity to both attend court hearings in the future and fulfill your obligations under a CPS case by participating in counseling or therapy, family-based social services, or a combination of the two. Whatever the specific circumstances of your case, understand that your child will be placed in the temporary care of CPS. Visitation will typically be allowed unless doing so would harm your child physically or emotionally.
With so much at stake in a CPS case, I want to spend as much of the remainder of today's blog posts on why you and your family would stand to benefit from hiring an experienced junior associate attorney with The Law Office of Bryan Fagan. After all: the information we are sharing in today's blog post is not intended to intimidate you or cause you a great deal of fear. Rather, we want to be able to show you that despite the importance of a CPS case, there are steps you can take to help protect you in your family. Hiring one of our junior associate attorneys to represent you in the CPS case is one of the most straightforward and sensible steps you can take to protect your child, yourself, and your relationship with him or her period
The benefits of hiring an attorney for your CPS case
When it comes to proceeding with a CPS case, you are under no obligation to hire an attorney. There is no requirement in the Texas family code that you have a lawyer represent you. By the same token, a judge cannot make rulings in your case based on your having or not having a lawyer. Still, I believe it is a wise decision for you to be able to work with an attorney who both understands you and your family as well as the circumstances you are facing. Our junior associate attorneys are those types of attorneys. Simply flip, our lawyers have the experience that you need to protect yourself, your children, and your relationship with them.
As I mentioned at the beginning of today's blog post, a CPS case does not function as a divorce or child custody case. Rather, a great deal of a CPS case occurs behind the scenes and without your knowledge. While the CPS investigator and possibly even their supervisor will work diligently to keep you informed of the events of your case much of the investigation and the decisions made regarding your child's well-being occur without your direct input. For this reason, you need to be an advocate for yourself in terms of following up on CPS and their actions and as well as aggressive in defending your rights as a parent.
This is a key part of having an attorney in these situations. Most notably, the junior associate attorneys with The Law Office of Bryan Fagan can talk with you and your family through the process and help you understand better what it takes to have your case come to an end successfully and for your child to be returned to your home if he or she has been removed. The attorney will begin to develop a relationship with the CPS caseworker and their supervisor so that there is no risk of your being kept out of the loop when it comes to communication. While CPS is not known for being overly communicative with people, the agency will not give you many chances to take phone calls, attend meetings, and generally provide feedback about the case. Therefore, you need to be able to express your opinion and weigh in on the circumstances of your case when given the opportunity.
An attorney with our office knows how to communicate with CPS and how to advocate for you. Additionally, when you were working on fulfilling the obligations of a safety plan, Service plan, or family-based social services plan, an attorney can help you to understand what your obligations are and to seek clarification, when necessary, from CPS. The last thing you want to do is go through a great deal of trouble when it comes to trying to follow a safety plan created by yourself in CPS only to see that you have made a mistake or misunderstood something. As a result, you will want to make sure that any misunderstandings are clarified early rather than later. Your attorney will help you be accountable to yourself and your child throughout the case.
Pink junior associate attorney bills hourly just as a senior associate attorney does. However, the major difference is that a junior associate attorney is typically more affordable. For budget conscience Texans this can be a major benefit. However, I don't expect you to take my word for it. If you do have questions about the information that you have read in today's blog post the best thing you can do is reach out to one of our attorneys today to learn about the services, we provide to our clients as well as the specific benefits that you might gain from hiring one of our lawyers to represent you in a CPS case.
Questions about the material containing today's blog post? Contact The Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material continue 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 affected by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.