Can CPS remove your child without a court order in Texas?

As a parent, you want to feel like you are in control. That control allows you to be able to have confidence that you are making the best decisions on behalf of your children. When you feel like that control is beginning to slip away that is when it is normal to feel uncomfortable. Discomfort leads to circumstances that typically are not beneficial for your child. As you progress in your parenting it is normal to gain comfort and clarity. Most parents feel better about the decisions they make as their children get older. 

However, in many situations your control as a parent is limited. Many of us parents strive and go to considerable lengths to improve ourselves and the way that we parent. However, when it comes to the daily needs of our children sometimes circumstances go beyond our control. When that happens, we are left in that familiar yet uncomfortable position of trying to do more than we can at that moment. This is where desperation and other negative emotions begin to creep into our minds.

In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we are going to discuss what it means to go through a Child Protective Services case. There are few situations where a parent feels less in control than during a CPS case. These are situations where a powerful state agency begins to investigate your family. Possessing knowledge of your rights is critical. However, CPS often neglects to make those rights fully known to you. 

Child Protective Services cases and your family

Specifically, we are going to focus our attention on the question of whether Child Protective Services can remove your child from your home without a court order. And learning about this subject you will also learn about your rights during an investigation. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are equipped to help you and your family. Contact us today for a free-of-charge consultation with one of our attorneys.

CPS investigations and their impact on your family

When it comes to a CPS investigation there is a lot to take in. Parents hear about CPS investigations from time to time, but details are sometimes few and far between. We just know about the experience of other people within this type of case. How are personal situation would develop with CPS is anyone’s guess. When you receive a knock on your front door from CPS it is almost certain that you are about to gain an understanding of the investigation process.

The reaction much of the time is to freeze up and lose sight of what is happening. We fear losing our children to an extreme. Another major concern is simply having the government poke and prod into our lives for a period. Neither of these are enjoyable. Certainly, we seek to avoid any situation where our children would need to be removed from the home. By learning the steps of a CPS investigation, you can better prepare your family and yourself for what may occur.

Ultimately, the extent to which your family is impacted by a CPS investigation depends upon the specific circumstances of your case. Some of you find that ultimately a CPS case is not very meaningful. The agency having received bad facts or information leads to short investigations. However, some of you will have a longer and more drawn-out case brought upon you. This is typically when there is substance to an allegation of abuse or neglect involving your child.

The key to a CPS investigation? Understanding your rights 

Above all else, you need to understand your rights and that of your family during a CPS investigation. Maintaining your focus on what is in the best interest of your child matters a great deal. However, this has always been your first and foremost concern. Once the CPS case begins your additional focus needs to be on your rights and that of your family. Many people freeze up during a CPS investigation and do not know how to proceed. This should not be your reaction.

To an extent, CPS must share with you your rights in one of their investigations. This has been a recent change in the law that is geared toward helping parents understand their rights. This not only helps families keep a calm demeanor but also advocates better for their children. Understandably, CPS has received many complaints over the years from parents who allege grievances related to a lack of information. It is troubling when a child can be removed from your home and there is no transparency about the process.

With that in mind, CPS must provide you with an overview of your rights at the outset of their investigation. However, it is up to you to read these writings. Next, you must understand them and be prepared to advocate for them. This is where the advice and perspective of an experienced CPS defense attorney becomes important. Contacting the Law Office of Bryan Fagan provides you with a leg up on CPS and their investigation. This is true no matter what your circumstances are and what you are facing amid a CPS investigation.

Can the government remove your child from your home without a court order?

A common scenario where parents come into the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is as follows. A parent has recently learned about a CPS investigation involving their child. Their mind immediately goes towards the worst possible outcome. That would be the removal of their child from the home. With that concern in mind, the parent walks into our office to sit down for a free-of-charge consultation. The question our attorney is asked is whether CPS can remove their child from the home. Specifically, can removal occur without a court order?

This is an understandable question. The government can seemingly do whatever it wants in many areas of our lives. This includes CPS cases and investigations. When your rights as a parent are not well explained this especially becomes concerning. A CPS caseworker can remove your child without a court order in limited circumstances. Even then, she must then proceed to court quickly thereafter to obtain a court order. This is known as an exigent removal of your child. In other words, in an emergency, your child may be removed from your home without the benefit of a court order. This is not typical but can occur.

When a caseworker is interested in having your child removed without a court order the following steps must occur. First, the caseworker must discuss the possibility with their supervisor. A supervisor and their program director must agree that certain requirements are in place to justify their removal. Most notably, the caseworker needs to have tried to secure your child’s safety by reasonable efforts. This means taking reasonable steps to keep your child safe while allowing him to remain in your home.

An emergency removal means all other options have been attempted

When CPS considers emergency removal of your child this means that the agency believes no reasonable ways are left to ensure your child’s safety. Their removal is a last resort. Typically, a safety plan is initiated to keep your child in the home. However, that is not attempted when your child needs to be removed on an emergency basis. There are case specific circumstances that need to be reviewed when it comes to an emergency removal.

First, the danger to your child is assessed. Needless to say, there is a significant amount of danger assessed in your home when emergency removal is considered. There are an endless amount of circumstances involving the safety and well-being of your child. We cannot go through all of them here. However, when circumstances are extreme then extreme options are considered. We know that CPS does not intend to remove your child unless no better option is available. This goes double for emergency removals without a court order.

One factor that needs to be mentioned here is your child’s history with CPS. Additionally, your family’s history with CPS, if any, is a relevant factor. This means that the greater your history is with CPS the more likely an emergency removal is required. This is due to CPS seeing the situation as one where emergency removal becomes justified. The inability of your family to remedy situations quickly and the repeated need for CPS to become involved a warning sign. All of this is assessed relative to the risk presented to your child.

The personal knowledge of your CPS caseworker

One important consideration to make is that your CPS caseworker will have a significant amount of knowledge regarding the circumstances of your family. CPS assigns caseworkers to learn as much about your family as possible. In investigating, the CPS caseworker interviews relevant parties including your children. You may have allowed CPS into your home. As a result, the CPS caseworker makes their decision based on a great deal of information by this point.

Typically, an emergency removal is based primarily on an immediate danger to your child’s physical health or safety. The child could be a harm to himself. This is true when a parent is unable to provide for a child’s mental and physical health needs. Or you or another member of the home can be determined to be an immediate risk. In a situation like this, it is important to assess all the persons living in your home. It may be that some persons living in your child’s home are not appropriate house guests.

One issue that needs to be mentioned in this space relates to drug use. If you or another adult are using drugs in the home with your child, then this is a potential source of emergency removal. Of course, your specific circumstances matter. I am not saying that every person who uses illegal drugs in the home will have their child removed without a court order. However, it remains A distinct possibility that this may occur. Furthermore, CPS investigations tend to show that people who use drugs allow individuals in the home who may not have the best interests of their child at heart.

What does the process look like for obtaining a court order before an emergency removal?

When it becomes a necessity for your child to be removed from the home without a court order CPS follows certain steps to do so. Recall that meeting with a supervisor and director is necessary for this type of removal to occur. In short, this is not a decision taken lightly by CPS. When removal is requested on an emergency basis the attorney for CPS is contacted. The attorney filed the petition seeking a hearing before a judge.

This hearing is attended only by the CPS attorney. You will not be notified of this hearing. CPS seeks a hearing as quickly as possible to present the facts and circumstances to the judge. Any evidence collected from the investigation with you is presented in this hearing. The relief sought by CPS is to allow them to remove your child. During this time the CPS caseworker will submit documents to their lawyer once the emergency removal is approved.

Once a court finds that an emergency ex parte order is appropriate it will be granted. This allows CPS to remove your child. This type of order is one where the court creates the order before holding a hearing where you are present. You will not be notified of this hearing or be provided with a citation.

Practical steps when removing a child

CPS must undertake certain steps before removing your child. During an emergency removal, the CPS caseworker takes possession of your child. Oftentimes this takes place with law enforcement to assist. CPS informs you and your co-parent of other reasons why the removal is necessary. CPS provides you with a list of your rights in their investigations. A brochure is handed out detailing how your child is cared for in their custody.

From there, CPS discusses with your child their immediate needs. This depends a great deal on your child’s age and maturity. CPS must take additional considerations into account when dealing with a child who is a toddler or infant. The caseworker attempts to learn as much about your child’s history as possible specifically regarding abuse or neglect. Any kind of educational, social, or physical barriers to your child’s well-being are asked about.

Conversations with your child

Depending upon the age of your child CPS will attempt to speak to him or her about the removal. CPS caseworkers understand that there are appropriate things to talk about with a teenager that are not appropriate with an older child, for example. As such, you should expect a developmentally appropriate conversation to be had. The CPS caseworker is not a counselor or therapist. Rather, she is simply attempting to provide basic information about the removal and the next steps in the process.

Hopefully by this point in the investigation, CPS will have spoken with you about potential housing options for your child. These are seen as places where your child can live during an investigation. Usually, family members are given priority in a situation like this. However, CPS will also talk to your child about potential options for housing. However, CPS makes known to children in these conversations that there is no guarantee for placement.

Final thoughts on the removal of your child in a CPS investigation

Undoubtedly, it is normal to be apprehensive about asset CPS investigation. However, there is no guarantee that removal of your child is necessary. It is the exception rather than the norm when removal occurs. However, you need to be prepared for whatever options or circumstances come your way in the investigation. There is no telling what can happen.

Being prepared is important when considering a CPS investigation. Helping your family means participating in the investigation when doing so is in the best interest of your child. This can also mean declining to participate until you have someone to assist you during that investigation. This is where the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan become a real advantage for you and your family.

Working with an experienced attorney means gaining insight into an investigation. Understanding your rights is one thing. However, understanding how your rights interact with the law is a completely different subject. Our attorneys have walked side by side with families just like yours for many years going through CPS cases. We know what it takes to resolve a CPS matter and to maintain your relationship with your child. Thank you for joining us today on our blog. We hope to see you again soon. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan posts unique and informative content about Texas family law each day of the week.

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 attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. Interested in learning more about how your family is impacted by the material in this blog post? Contact us today.

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At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, the firm wants to get to know your case before they commit to work with you. They offer all potential clients a no-obligation, free consultation where you can discuss your case under the client-attorney privilege. This means that everything you say will be kept private and the firm will respectfully advise you at no charge. You can learn more about Texas divorce law and get a good idea of how you want to proceed with your case.

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