When can CPS remove your child from your home in Texas and what can you do about it?
The most sickening and nerve-wracking experience in connection with a CPS investigation is the concern that you likely share with any other parent who has been through this process- whether or not Child Protective Services can remove your child from your home. No matter what your situation is, it is unlikely that you believe that your child ought to be removed from your house under any circumstances. Sure, you may be able to acknowledge that your child has gone through some turmoil at home, but you are in a better position than anyone to see things through and improve things.
However, if CPS makes a determination that abuse or neglect of your child has occurred, and further makes a determination that you are not in a position to remedy the situation that led to the abuse or neglect or otherwise ensures the safety of your child then CPS will likely go to a judge and attempt to win temporary custody over your child. This will allow them to find a more suitable, temporary place for your child to live while you work out whatever issues you have in your home with the assistance of CPS.
Today’s blog post will discuss the issue of when CPS can remove your child from your home and what you can do to protect yourself, your family and your child if that situation should arise in your home.
Protection of your child is job number one
Remember that CPS is not concerned about your well-being as an adult parent. Their objective is to ensure the safety of your child, full stop. There may be some sympathy or empathy towards you or your situation but that will not get in the way of the CPS caseworker from doing what is necessary to remove your child from your home if that is deemed to be in your child’s best interests. A hearing will be held in which CPS and their attorney will present information to the judge in order to win temporary conservatorship over your child.
You have a right to attend that hearing and offer evidence to oppose the attempts of CPS to win conservatorship rights to your child. It will be well worth the money to hire an attorney to represent you in this hearing. If you cannot afford one a judge can appoint you an attorney if you qualify on a financial hardship basis (if you are declared indigent by the court). Your ability to have a say in where your child goes and who he lives with is significantly reduced after this day so you should put as much effort as you are capable of into winning this hearing.
At the end of the day, your child can be removed from your house without already having a court order or temporary conservatorship in place if CPS determines there is an emergency circumstance that requires the immediate removal from your home. For instance, if your significant other was accused of molesting your child and was still living in the house it may be necessary for your child to be removed to ensure no possibility of molestations exists.
This was a basic overview of how removals typically occur in conjunction with a CPS case. What follows are more detailed explanations of the process. Remember that the law in Texas allows CPS to remove your child from your home if it is determined that your child needs to be protected. Outside of the emergency grounds that we just discussed, a removal can only occur if a judge signs an order granting CPS permission to do so or if you give your permission to CPS for removal to occur.
Parental Consent to removal a child from your home
You have the ability to consent to the removal of your child from your home. CPS can come and take your child to a foster home, relative's home or even a friend's home depending on the circumstances of your case. You must make clear your permission to remove your child when speaking to CPS. If you consent to allow the removal but your child's other parent does not then CPS cannot move forward with the removal unless a court order is obtained. Again, an emergency removal can occur under any circumstances- without a court order or permission from you and your child’s other parent.
You may be wondering- why would you want to consent to have your child removed from your home? For starters, it could be that your child is in need of psychiatric or medical attention that you are not able to provide him with at the moment. Maybe your insurance for your child has lapsed and he needs to have a tooth pulled or get a shot for school. Or, some parents find themselves in a position where they acknowledge that their child needs to be removed from the house due to their own mental health problems or other issues associated with their home.
A court order can be obtained to remove your child from your home
The most common method of having a child removed from your home would be to have your CPS caseworker ask for a judge's permission to do so via a court order. He or she would present evidence to the judge stating what conditions are in place that is likely to result in harm to your child. CPS will have an attorney at the hearing to present this information and possibly question the CPS caseworker as well.
The judge will be able to review the evidence that has been presented and will make a decision as to whether or not the evidence is sufficient to support the removal of your child. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will sign an order that allows CPS to remove your child from your home if the evidence is enough to merit doing so. A court order like this will need to be obtained within three days after an emergency removal of your child from your home.
How does CPS determine one situation to be an emergency and another to not be an emergency?
As you might imagine, there are differences between situations that present an immediate risk of harm to your child, known as emergencies and situations that do not present that sort of risk, known as non-emergency situations. CPS will ask a judge to grant an emergency order when there is sufficient reason to believe that your child is in immediate danger of suffering a harmful event. Your child will need to be in a situation where it is more likely than not, or probable, that he or she will suffer abuse or neglect as a result of being left to remain in your home. CPS will have the burden of convincing a judge that the removal is needed immediately in order to protect your child from the further risk of harm.
Unfortunately, because CPS will attempt to gain this emergency approval very quickly after interviewing you and inspecting your home, they are not required to let you know about the hearing and you will not be able to attend in all likelihood. In the event that the judge agrees with the arguments of CPS then the judge will sign a court order that allows CPS to remove your child from your home whether you agree to it or not. CPS can come to your home, your child's school or wherever your child may be.
The next step in this process is that within fourteen days of removing your child from your home CPS will need to set up another hearing in order to present additional evidence to the judge that will attempt to justify the continued removal of your child from your home. You will be able to attend this hearing and present your side of the story to the judge in an effort to have your child returned to your home. It is in this hearing that you can ask the court to appoint you an attorney if you cannot afford one.
If CPS does not believe your child is in immediate danger then the court will have more time and will schedule a hearing that you and CPS can attend together. CPS will present its case as to why your child should be removed and you will be able to tell your story about why your child should be able to remain in your home.
Emergency circumstances can lead to the removal of your child
A CPS caseworker and supervisor would need to get together in order to make a determination that your child is in immediate danger and needs to be removed from your home. This immediate danger would mean that it is more likely than not that your child will suffer physical or sexual abuse if allowed to remain in your home. An emergency hearing with a judge will need to be held on the first working day after the removal of your child from the home.
CPS is mandated by law to look to any other options available rather than removal of your child. Family Based Safety Services (FBSS), as well as Parental Child Safety Placement (PCSP), are such options. If you are interested in learning more about those you can refer to yesterday's blog post for more information.
How soon after removal must you be notified by CPS?
By the next day, CPS must give you information about the removal of your child from your home. If your child is removed on a weekend then you will be notified on Monday. You may be told in person about the removal by a CPS employee or a notice of removal may be left on the door that will alert you to the removal if you were not home at the time CPS came to your residence.
The notice of removal letter will contain the following: your caseworker’s name and contact information, the facts that led to the removal of your child, information about upcoming court dates as well as your rights and responsibilities. Those rights and responsibilities include your right to receive information about the court hearings that are upcoming, your right to be represented by an attorney as well as your rights to visit your child unless told otherwise by a judge.
It is important that you contact the caseworker as soon as possible to find out any information that you can about court appearances that are upcoming in this case. Those are very important since it is in those hearings that the judge will be making decisions about whether or not to allow your child to come home and how much and how frequently you are able to see your child.
The importance of getting a support system in place will be discussed in tomorrow’s blog post
Although a CPS case can be downright embarrassing to admit to, you need the support of your family during difficult times like these. In tomorrow’s blog post we will cover how and when to contact family and close friends about the situation so that they may offer you assistance during your CPS case.
In the meantime, if you have questions about the material that we have covered today 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 here in our office. We can answer your questions and address your concerns in a comfortable, pressure-free environment. If you have worries about your family and your children, you can do something about it rather than staying at home and wondering what will happen. Our attorneys and staff take a great deal of pride in representing people like you that live in our community. We work on behalf of our clients in every court in southeast Texas. Thank you for your time and consideration and we hope to hear from you soon.