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Knowing your rights in a Child Protective Services (CPS) case

During a Child Protective Services (CPS) case, it may feel like you have no rights to assert but believe me that is only how it feels. Once you take a step back and examine the situation for what it truly is you will come to realize that not only are you afforded rights in a CPS case but it is to your advantage to utilize them early and often. That’s not to say doing so is easy or without necessary effort. However, doing so will sure feel better than sitting back and watching the case proceed without any action being taken on your part.

The right to hire an attorney or be appointed one by a court

The best option for your rights to be protected in a CPS case is to hire an attorney or to have one appointed to you. Qualifying to have an attorney appointed to you is based on whether or not you can afford to pay for one on your own. If you receive government assistance for food or housing it is likely that you would also qualify to have an attorney appointed to you in your CPS case.

You will likely need to ask a judge to have a lawyer appointed to you. At your initial court hearing, you should bring this issue up to the judge. A consideration will need to be made as to whether or not you can afford an attorney. In all likelihood, an attorney will be provided to you and your hearing will be re-scheduled until a later time after you and your attorney have had an opportunity to discuss the merits of your case.

The right to know what is happening with your child and your case

One of the big concerns that people I meet with have in regard to CPS cases is that CPS is going to pull a fast one on you and your family in the middle of the night and the next thing you know your child will be living outside your home on a permanent basis. Fortunately, this is not something that can happen in an actual CPS case.

For starters, CPS must tell you the nature of their investigation into you, your family and your home. It is not something that the investigation will begin without your having been told at least the basic framework of the investigation and its purpose. If CPS eventually speaks to your child or actually wins possession of him or her notice must be provided to you. Notice means that the reasons your child was taken into their temporary custody must be provided as well as a description of your rights and contact information for CPS should be provided as well.

The issues of your case will be discussed in court

Ultimately the decisions regarding whether your child will be able to return to living in your home will be decided by a judge in court. CPS will have an attorney at any hearing to represent their interests but keep in mind that their goals will not necessarily be different than yours. To assume that CPS will be “working” against you, in this case, is incorrect. Your cooperation and diligence in making improvements in your life are crucial ingredients to having your child returned to your home.

Mediation (where all parties attempt to work together to settle the case before trial) or family group conferences (a meeting where all the parties to your case come together to discuss the issues of your case) are other instances where you have the right to attend and voice your opinions on the situation at hand. Do not take these opportunities for granted. For one, it is good to know the people involved in your child’s case so that you can understand the role of each. Secondly, your perspective is important in order to allow your child to live as comfortable a life as possible during the CPS Case. Without your perspective, the parties involved in your child’s case may be unaware of crucial information.

Your child can be placed with a relative

You have the right to provide CPS with the names of relatives with whom your child could potentially reside with for the duration of your CPS case. The idea that your child could end up having to live with complete strangers for a months-long stretch of time may have you worried but know that the CPS caseworker must ask you for the names and addresses of relatives who would be willing to take on the responsibility of having your child reside with them.

The relatives that stand the best chance of being viable options for your child to reside with tend to be those with no criminal records and those without any involvement with CPS in their own lives. From your child’s perspective, it can be intimidating to leave their home to have to go live with a stranger in a strange home. The opportunity to have your child reside with a relative on a temporary basis is one of the most important rights that you should exercise in regard to a CPS case.

CPS will conduct permanency placement meetings- attend each one

Ultimately the goal for CPS in their cases is to come to a resolution as to where your child should reside on a permanent basis. Your CPS case can last approximately one year but typically is resolved faster. Most cases will result in your child being returned to your home but CPS will have other plans in place if that is not possible. Adoption or having your child reside permanently with a relative are two options that are often created in CPS cases.

A permanency placement meeting occurs during a CPS case and the subject being discussed in the hearing is where your child can live permanently at the conclusion of the case. Whatever plan has been created by you and CPS, that plan will be reviewed with an eye on meeting the goals of that plan in mind.

The right to review court orders and CPS documents

So much of knowing what is happening in your child’s CPS case is having a record of what has happened. With that being said, you have a right to receive any orders signed by a judge. These orders will memorialize what has occurred in court and what the judge is ordering you to do. An order is something that the court has told you that you must do in order to put yourself in a position to have your child returned to your home. It is smart to request a copy of the court orders to have in your home. Refer back to these orders to make sure you are following through with those orders.

After your investigation and CPS case has concluded you can review the case records to see what work has been done by CPS in their investigation of you. Certain information will not be made available to you (like the identity of the person who reported abuse or neglect of your child to CPS), but the majority of the information related to your case will be available in the CPS case records.

How did you even get in this mess? The reasons why CPS gets involved in your life will be discussed in tomorrow’s blog

The events that led to CPS becoming involved in your life will be examined in tomorrow’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. In the meantime, if you have any questions for one of our licensed family law attorneys please do not hesitate to contact our office. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week where we can answer your questions. We work with families across southeast Texas and would be honored to do the same for you and yours.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. Maintaining a positive outlook during a CPS investigation in Texas
  2. Family Law Cases in Texas: Examining the steps in a Child Protective Services case
  3. Managing a Family Law case in Texas
  4. Texas Family Courts: Child Protective Services, Part Two
  5. How to present yourself and testify well in court during your divorce case, Part Two
  6. What to know about Child Protective Services
  7. Child Protective Services Investigation- What to expect and how to handle the situation
  8. Child Protective Services Investigation- What to expect and how to handle the situation, Part 2
  9. Child Protective Services Investigation- What to expect and how to handle the situation, Part 3
  10. 16 Steps to help you Plan and Prepare for your Texas Divorce
  11. How to present yourself and testify well in court during your divorce case
  12. Tips on giving in-court testimony in your divorce or child custody case
  13. Getting Ready for a Hearing On Temporary Custody Orders
  14. Geographic Restrictions in Child Visitation Orders in Texas
  15. The Dirty Trick of Moving Out of State with the Kids

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.

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