How much do you know about Child Protective Services cases in Texas? I'm willing to bet that the answer to that question is not very much. I'll make that wager not because I don't think that the average person reading this blog is intelligent or keeps up with the news or has friends or family who has shared in these types of cases. The fact is that many of us have people in our lives who have been through child custody or divorce cases. Each person probably has a unique story to tell, and the odds are good that they have told you something about their family law case. As a result, we all possess some knowledge about these fairly common family law cases in Texas.
Child Protective Services cases are another matter altogether. Fortunately, these types of cases are less common due to the extreme nature of many of them. While it is relatively common to have marital problems or custody disputes, it is less common for Texas to investigate a family for abuse or neglect of a child. This is something, especially amid a pandemic, that we should all be thankful for. Child Protective Services acts on behalf of the city of Texas to investigate allegations and reports of abuse or neglect of a child. These reports are anonymous to protect the identity of the Reporter and the information that they are giving.
If you think about it, investigating reports of abuse or neglect of a child can be extremely difficult both from an emotional perspective and a logistical perspective. Just think about how large the state of Texas is and how much ground CPS caseworkers and investigators have to cover. Many of these folks have to go into less than desirable circumstances and talk to people who are less than happy to see them. If you are going through a CPS case right now, you are likely aware of the feeling that many parents described to me upon learning about the investigation. To say it can take the wind out of your sails would be an understatement.
Parents go through the CPS case and experience a wide range of emotions. Fear, anger, hope, happiness, frustration, and every emotion in between can be experienced during a CPS case. Not only are you concerned about your child's well-being in the future of your relationship with them, but you are likely also concerned with your ability to maintain a relationship with your children in the future. Unlike in a child custody or divorce case, a possible outcome of a CPS case involves your parental rights being terminated. This means that you would not be able to have any legal rights or duties as they pertain to your children.
What does this mean on a real-world level? For starters, it means that you have no legal relationship with your kids. Biologically you would remain the parent of your children, but in a legal sense, you would have no more rights or duties related to your children. Essentially, you would have the same legal relationship with your children that I do, that is to say, no relationship at all. For any parent, this is a frightening prospect, and that it is a realistic income; for any CPS case only adds to the concern most parents feel at the beginning of a CPS case. Many parents who do not realize that this is a potential outcome grow even more worried throughout the case when this fact comes to light.
Keep in mind that the termination of your parental rights is a fairly extreme option that is not the norm as far as outcomes in CPS cases in Texas. Typically, it is only when a parent disregards recommendations from the court or specific court orders that termination of parental rights occurs. You will be expected to meet certain guidelines and fulfill certain duties as laid out in parenting plans, safety plans, and various temporary orders within a CPS case. The failure to meet your obligations as contained in these orders could potentially mean the termination of your parental rights or, at the very least, a severe restriction of your ability to interact with your children and make decisions on their behalf.
Most of the time, the steps you have to complete your Service plan or safety plan would be to do things like a 10 counseling or therapy if you have a drug addiction or anger management problem and then report back to your CPS caseworker upon completion of the courses. If you are not currently seeking therapy or counseling, then CPS would be able to provide you with information on low or no-cost counseling and therapy for you to undergo. The CPS case is often a blessing in disguise because it allows you to learn about certain problems he may have and then take action to deal with them. But for the CPS case, the problems you are experiencing in your daily life may have gone untreated for years and years.
What can the outcomes be in a CPS permanency hearing?
About six months after your child is removed from your home, a permanency hearing will be held where the judge in your case will review your progress being made in completing your Service plan. The well-being of your child will also be considered as well as their wishes. If your child speaks to their Guardian ad litem about wanting to be reunited with you at your home, then the judge will consider that. On the other hand, if your child expresses reluctance at being reunited with you, then that will also play into how the judge approaches the topic of reunification with your family.
These permanency hearings occur regularly throughout a CPS case. The law in Texas states that a judge must hold permanency review hearings at least every four months after the initial hearing. Depending on the nature of your case and the specific circumstances that you find yourselves in, these permanency hearings may occur more frequently. The judge will determine how you are progressing through your parenting and safety plans and whether it is in your child's best interest to have them return to your home.
The CPS caseworker who is working with you on your case will submit reports to the judge to inform them of your progress, as well. You and your lawyer will be able to obtain copies of the reports filed with the judge before the hearing so that you can have an advance copy of what will be talked about in your hearing. This is important because you all will be able to prepare better for the next steps in your case and counter any evidence that you believe is incorrect as to why your child should not be returned home to you.
After every hearing with a CPS court, the judge will issue orders based on what transpired in the hearing that day. These orders have a lot of importance for the future of your case since you will be required to follow the plan outlined in the orders and report the progress to your CPS caseworker. Getting back to what we discussed earlier in today's blog post, your parental rights may be terminated if you do not follow the plan outlined in your court orders.
One of the advantages of having an attorney to represent you in a CPS case is that you can speak to the attorney about questions and concerns you have with the order. For instance, I've had many parents involved in CPS cases who have come to our office for representation in the middle of their CPS case tell me that they do not understand a particular component of the order and, as a result, suffered some consequences in the case. Your attorney will play a role in developing the orders and help you understand them on a real-world level after the conclusion of the hearing.
Along the way, in your CPS case, you can speak to your attorney when you are outside of the courtroom about completing the orders and making sure that all the requirements of the order are met. There may be some aspects of the order that, over time, become difficult for you to manage due to changing circumstances. If this is the case, you should speak to your attorney, and they can speak to the caseworker or attorney for CPS to inform them of this. This is a much better scenario than having to tell a judge for the first time about missing an appointment or a visitation session with your child at a hearing.
Meetings to plan out the long term future of your case
throughout the CPS case, you will be allowed to work with CPS, their attorneys, the Guardian ad litem, the attorney ad litem, as well as your attorney to create a plan for long-term placement for your child permanently. These meetings are called permanency planning meetings and occur at least once throughout the CPS case. You will be able to discuss the case outside the judge's presence and receive feedback from the other parties involved. If there have been particular problems with you completing certain aspects of the parenting plan, then the other parties can also speak to you about these issues.
The nice part about these meetings is that the other parties involved, who may be much more familiar with CPS cases than you, can discuss strategies to help complete your plan of service and achieve a permanent residence for your child in your home. In CPS cases, most of the time, these meetings will occur much more than once and can occur as early as the period immediately after your first permanency review hearing.
What is a final hearing about your CPS case?
A final hearing or trial in your CPS case would take place approximately one year after the start of the case. Keep in mind that many CPS cases finish long before a trial, and one may not even be necessary in your particular case. You and your attorney will know the location, date, and time of that final hearing or trial well before the actual date. The subject matter discussed in your trial will be completing your case, setting a final order into place, determining parental rights, determining conservatorships issues, or the dismissal of your case.
As far as you are concerned, the most important issue in the case that will be decided in your trial would be whether or not your child will be returned to you for permanency in your home. Also, your parental rights may be restricted or terminated in this hearing depending on your progress in completing your parenting and safety plans. Additionally, depending on the circumstances of your case, your parental rights may be limited or restricted in some regard. It sometimes occurs that while your parental rights may not be terminated altogether, your ability to visit in spend time with your child after a case may be restricted for some time while you complete counseling or therapy sessions.
What is monitored return in conjunction with a Texas CPS case?
It sometimes happens in CPS cases where a judge believes that your child can be returned to you safely but that the court will order a monitored child to return to your home. This would involve a court setting forth an order that requires a return date to court approximately six months after the trial date in your case. CPS will maintain temporary custody of your child during these six months, but your child will be allowed to return to live at home with you.
While this may seem intrusive, it would allow you to readjust to living with your child in the home and ensure that any safety concerns do not redevelop. It may surprise you that some transition time will be required if your child has to return home to live with you After being gone for nearly a year. Some of the behaviors and emotions that led to your child's removal may rear their ugly heads upon your child being back in the home. You can look at the six months as a transition time for you and your family.
If your child cannot remain home with you on a long-term basis, CPS would likely again remove them if your child is removed from you and your possession during these six months. In a court that happened to disagree with that removal, then it is likely that your case will be dismissed or an additional period will be allowed where your child can return home with you, and another attempt at placement in your home is set up.
Closing thoughts on CPS investigation outcomes
Undoubtedly, CPS cases can be complicated to manage both from a practical and emotional standpoint. I have worked with many families going through CPS cases, and even in the best of circumstances, I can tell you that your emotions as a parent will be pushed somewhat given the contentious nature of a CPS case. The fact that the case's timeline is not always in your control can be another difficult to stomach aspect.
With that said, I have come to believe that the biggest advantage that you can possess in a CPS case is an attitude in willingness to do what it takes to have your child returned to your home. If you can set aside your ego and stubborn nature (if that even applies to you) and participate in the process, you will stand a much better chance to be reunited with your child if you submit to the process where reasonable and have an attorney by your side then you are at even more of an advantage.
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 consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, or via video. These consultations offer you an opportunity to speak with an experienced family law attorney and learn more about the world of Texas family law and the services that can be provided to you as a client of ours. We appreciate your interest in our law practice. We hope you will join us again tomorrow as we continue to post interesting and relevant subject matter regarding family law issues in Texas.
If you find yourself in the middle of a CPS case, it is easy to find your spirits low and optimism levels even lower. The life you had led previously with your family could be gone forever, all because of a misunderstanding or simple misinformation provided to Child Protective Services about you or your spouse abusing or neglecting your child.
Now that CPS has become involved, you are feeling stressed out to the max. The purpose of the CPS investigation is not all that clear to you and attempts to contact your caseworker usually end up in voicemails being left multiple times per day. It is not ideal for a parent like yourself with many questions and not much time to get the answers you need.
Keep your head up for your child’s sake.
While it is easy to feel sorry for yourself when CPS knocks on your door, keep in mind that your child is the one who is truly suffering here. They do not understand anything that is going on most likely and have now been exposed to people and things that were before unknown to them.
To help your child get back into your home, you must take steps to protect yourself and your own well-being during a CPS investigation.
Talk to people that you trust and remain positive.
These two suggestions may not be easy for you to practice, but I can tell you that they are essential to your remaining sane during a CPS case. If you have family, friends, people from church, or a therapist available to you, by all means, talk daily to these folks about your situation.
It can be embarrassing to talk to another person about CPS involvement in your life but letting go of your frustrations about your case be freeing. These are the people that you trust most in your life, and they have your and your child’s best interests at heart. Lean on them during the tough times of your case.
You are not in a hopeless situation. Let me repeat that: you are not in a hopeless situation. You may not be an attorney or know the legal system even in general, but you and your family can manage this CPS case.
A CPS case has a beginning point and an endpoint. What’s more- you have the power within you to affect the outcome of the case through your behavior and actions. Nobody will take the steps that you need to take for yourself, but with the power of positive thought and proactive thinking, you can help yourself a great deal.
Patience is a virtue.
I’m willing to bet that someone has told you that patience is a virtue or something similar to that at some point in your life. The legal system is not well known for quick and efficient justice but takes solace because your case is on a timeline and has an end date that is typically one year from the start of the investigation.
This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you only have to go through the case for one year- not an endless amount of time by any means. If you can stay positive, be involved, and take positive steps to improve your life this year, you can have your child returned to your home relatively quickly.
On the other hand, you only have a year to prove to a judge that you have what it takes to keep your child safe and provide a home life conducive to raising them. Depending on the allegations being made against you or your spouse, this can mean that you have a lot of work to do in a relatively short amount of time.
Fortunately, your CPS caseworker will work with you on taking the necessary steps to make those improvements, and you have the ability to hire an attorney who will advocate on your behalf and make sure that you are meeting the guidelines set forth by CPS in your safety plan.
Take inventory of your life and remain sober.
It could be an unfortunate situation where you have to face an addiction to drugs or alcohol due to CPS becoming involved in your life. Previously you would have thought that you didn’t have an addiction, per se, and that you could handle your parenting responsibilities just fine despite being altered mentally from time to time.
Fast forward to the current CPS investigation, and it should become clear to you that life using substances and a life where you can parent your child are no longer compatible. This means that you should take whatever steps are available to you to eliminate the usage of drugs and alcohol from your life. CPS most likely has resources available to you to attempt to sober up and eliminate a cause of concern regarding your ability to parent.
It is also not lost that stress can lead you to relapse and rely even more heavily on drugs or alcohol. A CPS case is extremely stressful, and it is easy to lose yourself in the comfort of an old addiction. With that said, your ability to anticipate this condition and surround yourself with people who can support and love you during tough times is important.
Evaluate the people you spend your time with and figure out if you need to make changes in that area. Remember- who you hang around with will influence your children's attitudes, career, and personal life. If those people are also putting you in dangerous situations from a substance abuse perspective, you need to eliminate those people immediately to ensure you stand a chance at having your child returned to your home.
Help your child by helping yourself.
In a CPS case, you will need to quickly learn what is involved in an investigation, your role in it, and whether or not you need assistance in advocating for yourself and your child. Once an investigation is underway, it can be easy to lose sight of all of the important factors in a CPS case because you are focused so intensely just on making it through the day. If you do not know what is important in a case, you will have even less of a clue on how to ensure that you are taking steps to achieve your goals.
Hiring an attorney and working closely with the CPS caseworker are perhaps the most important and basic steps that you can take to help yourself and therefore help your child during a CPS investigation. These folks will help you manage your case, keep appointments, and meet the goals you and CPS have set for yourself as far as having your child returned to your home. These folks' experiences will compensate for your anxiety over not knowing exactly how to best proceed in certain situations.
Acting with purpose in a CPS case is important- we’ll discuss how to do so in tomorrow’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC.
If you seek an attorney who will act with your and your family’s best interests in mind, look no further than the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We represent families across southeast Texas who have active cases with CPS and would be honored to do the same for you and your family. Please get in touch with us today for a free-of-charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “Child Protective Services E-Book.”
Other Articles you may be interested in:
- What to Do When CPS Asks for a Drug Test in Texas
- CPS and how The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, can help
- Take control of your child’s CPS case by following these tips
- How to stand up for yourself during a Texas CPS case
- How to prevent a second CPS investigation after your first concludes
- Family Law Cases in Texas: The final stages of a CPS case
- When can CPS remove your child from your home in Texas, and what can you do about it?
- What to do if you no longer like your CPS service plan?
- In what circumstances could your child end up living with your relative during a CPS case?
- What can a CPS investigation into your family mean now and in the future?
- What to do if CPS is investigating your spouse in Texas for abuse or neglect of your child?
- Can CPS photograph your house and request your child’s medical records in Texas?
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 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.