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Essential information in a Texas CPS case

The Burden of Proof for CPS

Being named temporary managing conservator of your child is difficult for CPS. There is a high burden for them to meet. When removed in an emergency, CPS needs to show that a person of ordinary prudence and caution could reasonably find that a handful of circumstances are true.

First, danger is present in the home which impacts the physical health or safety of your child. The failure to act on your part as a parent causes this danger. Then, to remain in your home is contrary to the welfare of your child.

Next, an urgent need exists for the protection of your child. An immediate removal should occur because less extreme measures attempted were unsuccessful at eliminating the concern. Due to the continued danger of your child in the home removal is the most prudent choice.

Evidence presented in CPS hearings 

CPS has a team of attorneys. The attorney presents evidence in hearings. These hearings involve determinations regarding your child in your home. Your child’s well-being is at stake. You cannot take for granted the opportunities you have to present evidence. CPS presents recordings of your child in court. CPS presents photographs of your home in court. This evidence is key. CPS prepares diligently with their attorneys for hearings.

An attorney ad litem represents the best interests of your child in hearings. Your child and you, legally speaking, do not necessarily have the same interests in this matter. This is difficult to consider. You make decisions that you think are good for your child. However, CPS may find that your child has likely been abused or neglected. Then you become the principal target in their investigation. This is serious. When CPS comes into your life you are vulnerable. They determine the pace of the investigation. You need to communicate well and stay up to date on what is ongoing.

The importance of a CPS defense attorney

When you hire an attorney he or she puts on a case supporting your arguments. Make sure your attorney has experience in CPS defense, like those with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We know how to present a case in court. We know how to negotiate and communicate with CPS. Most of all, we know how to support you and your family during this time. Do not take for granted the opportunity you have to make a good case for yourself. Contact our office to learn how we help people just like you.

Answering many questions is part of testifying in a CPS case. Your attorney, the attorney for CPS, an attorney ad litem and the judge may ask questions of you. Tell the truth and be straightforward. What you say makes a difference when it comes to the return of your child. Testifying in front of a judge is strange. Again, preparing with an attorney before these hearings makes a tremendous difference to your case.

What is Family Based Social Services? 

Family Social Services (FBSS) are another way that CPS works with families to avoid removal of children. Removal of your child from your home is the last thing you want. However, CPS can remove your child. This is a disheartening and intimidating experience. Relatives or foster care are housing options for your child during an FBSS case. Your child may remain at home during FBSS care, however.

CPS conducts a full investigation first. FBSS will recommend involvement if in the best interests of your family. Once assigned to FBSS a new case worker begins working with you. All adults in your household will meet with FBSS in a meeting. This occurs within ten days of your case’s assignment to FBSS. A meeting with all parties and FBSS is held much of the time at the initial stage of FBSS involvement.

You may not complete all the steps of FBSS, and you create together. Not completing the FBSS plan means a re-evaluation will occur related to your child. Participating in the FBSS plan allows you a better chance at keeping your child in your home. However, FBSS looks at the situation from the perspective of your child. Do not agree to something in FBSS that you are uncomfortable with. Speak with an experienced attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan before doing so.

How does a plan of service impact your case?

You may agree to a plan of service with CPS during the investigation. A plan of service goes into effect after 21 days. The plan of service describes the role of CPS in your family’s lives. Next, it will state how to get your child returned home as far as completing services. Reducing the likelihood of abuse or neglect of your child is the purpose of the safety plan.

The End of Family-Based Social Services

A caseworker requests additional time when your family has not completed the services you requested. This is for your benefit. When safety services aren’t needed FBSS recommends closure. FBSS also recommends closure of a case when removal is necessary in their opinion. FBSS conducts home studies within ten days of a closure recommendation. Contact made by FBSS occurs between themselves and any person with a plan of service. This ends the FBSS phase of your case.

When happen in a final hearing with CPS?

In advance, the date and time for a final hearing with CPS is set. This hearing occurs no later than one year after CPS wins temporary conservatorship of your child. A dismissal of your case must occur before the first anniversary unless a final hearing is held. The purpose of a trial is to allow a judge to decide whether your child will come back to your home.

Monitored the return of your child

A monitored return of your child involves him coming home when safe to do so. CPS would remain as a temporary conservator. However, your child returns home to live with you. You must complete any remaining portions of a safety or service plan before reunification. Readjusting to life with your child is the purpose of a monitored return. Provided to you are opportunities for your child to remain in your home permanently. 

Removal of your child from your home is possible, however. A judge must agree with the removal for that CPS decision to stand. The purpose of this hearing is to set the case for trial. Hire an attorney if you have not done so already in your case. This trial involves offering evidence into the record. Testimony of you and other witnesses occurs. Cross-examining witnesses and offering proper objections to opposing evidence is crucial. An experience with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan serves families frequently in these trials.

Termination of parental rights 

As a result of a CPS case, your parental rights are subject to termination. This does not occur often. However, given the right circumstances, it is something to consider. To fulfill at least one ground for termination is essential in a CPS termination hearing. Additionally, termination of your parental rights must serve your child’s best interests. 

CPS must produce evidence of a clear and convincing nature when requesting parental rights termination. This is a high burden for CPS to bear. You as the parent do not need to agree to the termination for it to occur. If the termination is voluntary that makes the process faster. However, when you do not agree to the termination you force CPS to put on a case with evidence.

Grounds for terminating parental rights 

We are going to discuss three of the most common grounds for terminating parental rights in Texas. First, abandoning your child whom CPS has temporary conservatorship is a common ground for parental rights termination. It feels like the end of the world when CPS removes your child from your home. However, the return of your child home to you is possible when you participate in the process. Abandonment is a surefire way to have your parental rights terminated. 

Endangering your child is the next ground for parental rights termination. Continuing to place your child in harm’s way during a CPS investigation is dangerous to your parental rights. You need to play by the rules, communicate with CPS, and remedy dangerous conditions in your home. You have an opportunity to learn proper methods to keep your home safe and improve your parenting skills in a CPS case. Failing to do so leads to danger for your child and the future of your parental rights. 

Finally, court orders in a CPS case specifically lay out the expectations for you in a case. You need to learn and abide by those orders. Do not deviate from them. Following a safety plan and your court orders is the ticket to having your child returned home to you. Failing to do so results in termination of parental rights.

Conservatorship in a CPS case

Transfers to the conservatorship department from investigations take place when CPS takes custody of your child. Sometimes Family Based Social Services (FBSS) becomes a part of your case, as well. Another team of people with CPS takes hold of your case after the transfer. What you need to know is that when CPS has temporary conservatorship of your child the means termination of your parental rights is possible.

Conservatorship is another term used in law to refer to custody. A Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship involves CPS attempting to win temporary custody of your child. To remove your child from your home CPS must first ask for temporary conservatorship. An exception takes place when CPS removes your child on an emergency basis. However, CPS must go before a judge within one day after emergency removal to request temporary custody.

CPS consults with their legal team before seeking temporary conservatorship of your child. CPS will not request conservatorship of your child unless necessary. Temporary managing conservatorship in a CPS case means that the agency has custody of your child temporarily. For the time being CPS will be able to make decisions on behalf of your child.

What sort of decisions will CPS make for your child?

When a court grants CPS temporary conservatorship rights over your child this allows them to make decisions on his behalf. Included in those rights and duties is the right to make decisions regarding educational and medical decisions. Typically, CPS requires that you complete a plan of service in conjunction with winning back custody of your child.

Why is CPS requesting to terminate your parental rights?

Part of your conservatorship case with CPS may involve the agency attempting to terminate your parental rights. This is part of a lawsuit known as a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR). CPS may additionally petition to terminate your parental rights as part of this case. You will have an opportunity to contest a petition to terminate your parental rights, however.

Your parental rights terminate if you do not complete services provided to you by CPS. A final hearing or trial is where CPS may ultimately seek termination of your parental rights.

What is a guardian or attorney ad litem?

A court appoints a guardian ad litem before the initial hearing with CPS. An attorney ad litem represents the interests of your child. A guardian ad litem reviews pleadings in your case and attends hearings to learn more about your child. Medical and educational records of your child are available to him or her, as well. The guardian ad litem meets with your child whether you provide permission, or not.

An attorney ad litem is a licensed attorney. The attorney ad litem will represent your child in court hearings before a judge. To learn more about what an attorney ad litem does in a CPS case please reach out to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed CPS defense attorneys listen to what you have to say and will answer your questions.

Where will your child live during the CPS case?

CPS must place your child with a relative or friend of your family. However, you must provide the name of a person with whom your child is safe. The family will have a background and criminal history check performed on them before placement. A visit to their home, known as a home study, is part of the placement process.

When child removal occurs from your home make sure to provide CPS with the names and contact information for family members. You can provide this information at any point in the investigation. However, it is best to do so early in the process.

What happens in an initial CPS hearing?

After filing for temporary conservatorship, CPS takes custody of your child. An initial hearing is held where this temporary conservatorship is determined. Temporary orders come out of this hearing, as well. As part of the initial hearing, you have a right to ask for temporary possessory conservator. This provides you with some rights during the case.

What is a permanency planning meeting?

Permanency planning meetings occur at various points in the CPS case. You will have an opportunity to go over the case with CPS when the judge is not there. Whatever parts of your parenting plan that are giving your issues are discussed, as well. CPS acts intentionally towards creating outcomes geared towards a permanent custody solution for your child.

An attorney provides you with advantages during these permanency planning meetings. First, an attorney helps ensure you understand your service plan. Parents complete safety plans more easily when an attorney explains the plan to them. This way you are not reliant on yourself only. Next, an attorney has experience in contesting claims made by CPS that are unrealistic or not based on fact.

Take advantage of all visitation opportunities with your child

Go to each visitation session with your child. No matter if you are unhappy with what you have. Additional visitation periods are available to parents but only when existing appointments are maintained. Your child needs to see you. Remember that whatever difficulties you are going through, your child has similar circumstances. Help your child by helping yourself adhere to your safety plan or temporary orders.

Where to go from here in a CPS case?

A CPS case is serious but manageable with the help of an experienced CPS defense attorney. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan offer you top-notch legal representation. Additionally, we put your interests first and care sincerely about your family.

Interested in learning more about our office? Contact us today for a free-of-charge consultation with one of our experienced CPS defense attorneys. To better prepare for your CPS case consult with us today. We offer a combination of experience, professionalism, and a history of success unmatched in Texas.

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. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as how your family’s circumstances are impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody lawsuit.

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