A general caveat that I apply to many blog posts written on behalf of the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, is that the advice we give and the hypothetical situations we present are intended to apply to as many of you reading as possible. For that reason, we do not lay out atypical situations for the most part.
Today will be an exception to that rule. Although CPScases can all take on similar themes and procedures, some can take on a life of their own. If you are facing a situation that we have not covered in the past few weeks, then today will hopefully clarify and enlighten you to an extent.
Examples of atypical or uncommon situations that parents encounter in CPS investigations
If you have a disability or mental impairment, you know that you do not process information as efficiently as others despite your best efforts.
Keeping up to date with changes in your life and your child's may be difficult. This is an unfortunate circumstance that some parents will have to encounter due to CPS becoming involved in their child's life.
Special needs parents and their challenges in a CPS investigation
Physical and mental impairments count as disabilities in a CPS case, and your attorney should make the judge and CPS aware of those impairments.
They affect your ability to move, to comply with certain expectations regarding the investigation, as well as your ability to understand what is expected of you regarding completing services about your CPS investigation. If you suffer from mental impairments, you may not improve your behavior regarding a segment of your parenting skills due to your limited intellect or cognition abilities.
Physical impairments include those with your muscle/skeletal system, like a degenerative condition in your knees, hips, or back. Diabetes, epilepsy, and hearing impairments are considered to be disabilities as well. Suppose you suffer from a severe physical handicap that has affected you for years and is expected to continue. In that case, you have a disability that needs to be brought to the attention of your attorney and eventually the court.
The effect of a disability on your CPS case
Your CPS caseworker's responsibility to ensure that you are aware of any ongoing events in your case does not dissipate only because they will have to work a little harder to make you aware of any changes or updates. They will have to accommodate you by communicating these updates in different ways. Typically you will need to have extra services made available to you so that you are given the same opportunity to complete your service plan and have your child returned to your home.
The unfortunate case is that parents with disabilities are more likely than non-disabled parents to become involved with CPS and even lose their parental rights via a termination suit filed in court by CPS.
Despite your disability, you will need to show CPS that your child will be safe in your home. Your means of parenting may need to be different than the parent down the street, but that doesn't mean that you are a less effective parent as a result.
As a disabled person, you likely have tools available to you in the form of your patience and consideration of others that a non-disabled person may not have in as great an abundance as you. These are unusual gifts that you can impart upon your children due to this CPS case.
The responsibility to advocate for you rests on your and your attorney's shoulders.
Do not expect that CPS or the court will make any effort on their own to learn about your particular disability and how it can fit within the confines of the ongoing legal case.
To teach CPS about your disability, you and your attorney will need to speak to your caseworker, their supervisor, and the judge in any courtroom hearing to make sure that the attributes of your disability are well known. Any limitations it places upon you regarding parenting needs to be laid out for the judge to see.
How to respond to a CPS caseworker stating that you are unable to care for your child
If your disability is severe enough, CPS could conclude that you cannot care for your child. To do so, CPS must show a judge that you cannot care for your child's emotional or physical well-being due to your suffering from a severe impairment. Furthermore, because of your symptoms of this severe impairment, it is unlikely that you will ever care for your child before she turns 18.
In instances where CPS has had temporary managing conservatorship rights to your child for at least six months, CPS can motion the court to have your parental rights terminated.
Once a petition to terminate your parental rights is filed, you get the right to an attorney provided by the court. It does not matter if you are indigent – the right to an attorney is absolute at this stage in the process. Until a lawyer is provided to you, your case cannot continue. This means you will not have any hearings or cannot be made to speak to CPS in any capacity until you have an attorney assigned to represent you.
What accommodations must CPS make to help you work through your service plan?
CPS has to take reasonable steps to allow you to complete the service plan that has been laid out for you. These reasonable steps include anything that can help you keep your child safe in your home.
These include one-on-one services that allow you to learn directly from a therapist or counselor how to manage your disability and parent more effectively. If you require unique means of transportation to get to a therapy session or need a special kind of therapy to complete your service plan, CPS will need to work to help you in this regard.
Special considerations if you are suffering from a mental impairment
If you have been diagnosed with a mental impairment, this presents unique challenges in the context of a CPS investigation. No treatment will likely eliminate or minimize your impairment at for as long as the CPS case is ongoing. There is also a significant risk of decompensation (reoccurrence) of the symptoms of that impairment even if you get better for some time.
Remember that your CPS case will not proceed for more than one year and that you need to focus on improving your mental state as much as possible during this one year. If you have special conditions that need to be in place for you to complete the objectives of your service plan, your attorney should make those conditions known to CPS.
By allowing the judge to see how you live daily, you can increase your credibility in the judge's eyes and help dispel any notions that you are incapable of caring for your child.
Handling a CPS investigation as a parent who is not an alleged abuser or neglect or
If you were named in an investigation but are not a target of the investigation, you will be included in the legal battle insofar as you are the other parent and have to be named. Being in this position presents its own unique set of challenges that we will go over in detail in tomorrow's blog post.
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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.