If Child Protective Services (CPS) becomes a part of your life it is understandable to feel a lot of different emotions all at once. You are likely some combination of angry, upset, stressed out and even embarrassed.
Your family life is now being examined by complete strangers and has thrown your routines into disarray. You’ve never even been ticketed for a speeding violation in your entire life- now a CPS investigator is asking you questions about the possibility that you or your spouse abused or neglected your child.
Your work has been understanding of the time crunch you’ve been going through but even they have become impatient and less accommodating in recent days. You are receiving phone calls from different people with CPS all day long and are even having to miss work to attend meetings and counseling sessions. It could be that for years you’ve looked for a job with this kind of stability but now a CPS investigation threatens everything you’ve worked hard for.
Finally- you don’t even know if the CPS investigation is going to treat you and your spouse fairly. They haven’t really communicated what is being alleged as far as neglect or abuse or your child so far. You can’t for the life of you picture an incident that resulted in your child being in harm’s way. Regardless- you understand that someone contacted CPS to allege that your child has been abused or neglected.
A detailed explanation of a CPS case is what you will find in this series of blog posts
If you have no idea what goes into a CPS investigation or the people involved in working with your family then please stay tuned to this upcoming series of blog posts. The anxiety surrounding a CPS case can be overwhelming because you don’t know what to expect but you are under the impression that your child can be removed from your house with no clear chance to get him or her back anytime soon.
To work with CPS on an investigation into your family can be confusing and frustrating. However, we hope that in these blog posts you can learn about this important subject and feel better prepared to advocate for yourself, your spouse and most importantly your child.
A CPS case can impact your relationship with your child forever
Make no mistake, you can be an involved, honest and good parent and still risk losing your rights to your child in a CPS case. It does not matter if you were a Girl Scout mom or led youth groups at your local church.
The fact remains that the law empowers CPS to make decisions and begin legal processes that can end up in the termination of your parental rights should the allegations made against you be substantiated and a court believe it to be in the best interests of your child that he or she not be returned to your home.
Fortunately for you and your spouse, if your case does end up going to court the case itself is kept on a timeline that forces CPS to complete the process in twelve months or less.
That means that you would theoretically have one year to convince a family court judge that it is in the best interests of your child that he or she be returned to your home to live with you on a permanent basis. Acting quickly and making good decisions from the outset of a case is critically important because as any lawyer will tell you, a year can fly by. However, your child will feel like the year has lasted an eternity while he or she lives either with relatives or in foster care.
Stages of a CPS case
We’ve discussed in general terms how a CPS case works but I would like to help you pinpoint just where you are in the process based on your family’s individual circumstances.
After all, I cannot say for certain if you are just beginning your case or are already towards the end and are near to the conclusion.
What are the paths that your CPS case can go down?
At the outset of a CPS case, you will find yourself in the middle an investigation after a report of abuse or neglect was made to the agency. A caseworker will come to your home to ask you and your family questions in an attempt to learn more about possible risks to the safety and well being of your child. The results of the investigation will dictate the next steps in the process. The investigation could be closed almost immediately if no evidence is found to substantiate the allegations.
On the other hand, if there is evidence developed that substantiate the allegations of abuse or neglect, your family may be referred to something called Family-Based Social Services (FBSS). This is sort of a “middle ground” for parents who are being investigated for abuse or neglect.
On the one hand, it has been found that there are unsafe conditions in your home and that further CPS involvement is warranted. On the other hand, those conditions are not so dangerous or dire that your child will need to be removed from your care and placed into the temporary care of CPS. Your child can often continue to live in your home while you work with CPS to resolve the dangerous condition.
If the condition warrants removal of your child based on a clear and present danger to their emotional or physical well being your child will be taken from your home after a court has given CPS temporary managerial rights to him or her. There will be a caseworker assigned from CPS to work with you and your family at this stage. It is recommended that if your child is removed from your home that you hire an attorney to represent you and your family.
Let’s skip to the end: How can your CPS case conclude?
Your case with CPS can conclude with either your parental rights being terminated, your child remains in CPS custody despite your rights not being terminated or in your child being returned to you and your family.
Your parental rights can either be terminated voluntarily or involuntarily. A trial in which CPS proves that it is in your child’s best interests that you lose any and all right to make decisions on their behalf would result in an involuntary termination of your parental rights. During the case, it may become apparent to you that you are not in a position to care for a child and may voluntarily waive your rights to your child. Obviously, this is a difficult decision to come to and does not happen very often.
It sometimes happens that a CPS case concludes with your child not being returned to your home but your parental rights not being terminated either. In this situation, CPS would become the Permanent Managing Conservators of your child and would remain in foster care. A relative of yours could be where your child stays for the foreseeable future as well. You will still be able to have a say in the decisions made regarding your child but CPS would have superior rights in this regard.
Questions on a CPS investigation? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
If you have been contacted by CPS about any allegations made against you or your spouse please contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC immediately. It is crucial that you act quickly and decisively when your relationship with your child is threatened. We can help you sort through the issues of your case and chart a course to have your child returned to your home if he or she has already been removed. A free of charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys is only a phone call away.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Help your child and yourself in a Child Protective Services case by remaining actively involved
- Maintaining a positive outlook during a CPS investigation in Texas
- Family Law Cases in Texas: Examining the steps in a Child Protective Services case
- Managing a Family Law case in Texas
- Texas Family Courts: Child Protective Services, Part Two
- How to present yourself and testify well in court during your divorce case, Part Two
- What to know about Child Protective Services
- Child Protective Services Investigation- What to expect and how to handle the situation
- Child Protective Services Investigation- What to expect and how to handle the situation, Part 2
- Child Protective Services Investigation- What to expect and how to handle the situation, Part 3
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 important 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 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 cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, 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.