An unfortunate reality of some Texas Child Protective Services cases is that the parental rights you hold about your children can be terminated due to the case. It is important to keep in mind, however, that this is one of many possible outcomes. It is far from a likely outcome. Understandably, CPS court judges hesitate 2 terminate the parental rights of a parent unless the situation merits it. We typically see circumstances come into play where past behavior has placed the child in repeated instances where immediate well-being is questioned. Think about cases where severe drug use or neglect of a child has a curd.
On top of that, a judge would have to see that any efforts made by CPS to allow you to retain her parental rights and have your child reunited with you after removal were not call drew with by you. You will be given the option to fix defects in your home, remove dangerous persons from your home, attend counseling, and make other changes to your life that make things more suitable for a child to be living with you on a full-time basis. If you make even a basic effort to follow through with these plans and update CPS on your progress being made fulfilling them, it is doubtful that your parental rights would be terminated. Your inability or unwillingness to participate in complete various safety plans throughout your case could lead to the termination of your parental rights.
As you can see, this is the most severe and most permanent option available to a CPS court judge. There is minimal opportunity to appeal the termination of your parental rights. Furthermore, there is no ability to file a motion for a new trial or any procedural elements available to you as there would be a child custody or divorce case. With this in mind, you must be able to get it right the first time and get CPS out of your life as quickly as possible.
The big question you need to answer in your case is how to get CPS out of your life and be reunited with your child. If every person in your situation could find the answer to this question truthfully, then there will be many fewer stressed-out parents worrying about their kids and their circumstances. Most families' trouble is that they can either be unable or unwilling to find the answers early on in their CPS case. This puts families behind the ball and increases the chances of an unsuccessful an extremely damaging CPS case.
Take heart in the fact that by reading today's blog post in the other blog posts on our website regarding Child Protective Services cases, you are taking a good first step to avoid finding yourself in this kind of category. Simply learning how CPS case functions, your role in it, and what you can do to avoid having your parental rights terminated is a great advantage over many families who find themselves in your specific situation. That is what I would like to work with all of you today. We will discuss how to avoid having your parental rights terminated, and we will do so by learning about the CPS case process.
Family-based safety services
A key phase of your CPS case that you will need to pay attention to avoid the possibility of having your parental rights terminated is the family-based safety services. This is an alternative to having your child removed from your home in the first place and allows you to remain their day-to-day caretaker and decision-maker. Rather than having the decision made for you as to whether or not your child can remain with you, you also would have the option of having your child placed with a friend or family member who is determined by CPS to be safe and competent as a caretaker. It will be a voluntary decision if you choose to do so.
During this time, you would be able to begin to take the steps necessary to remove whatever obstacles stand before you as far as having your child with you permanently. For instance, there may be a hazard or condition in your home that needs to be remedied and removed. Any of you living in the country or a rural part of Southeast Texas may live on land or live in a mobile home community where conditions exist that can be dangerous to your child. If this is the case, you may need to clean, clear, or Patch up any problems in your home or property for your child to be returned home to you. What may have seemed like an innocent mistake or accident at the time may be evidence of neglect of your child under the definition of Texas law.
Additionally, you may have a relative or person unrelated to your child living with you in the home that presents a certain risk to your child's well being. This may be a person that you have never thought twice about leaving alone with your child but maybe objectively a risk to him or her. For example, I have represented a young man in a child custody case. One of the case's major issues was that this man's uncle lived with him and was a sex offender, having previously committed assault against a child. Although this was an incident that had taken place years ago, I had to talk to our client about requiring his uncle to leave home. This may have been an emotionally difficult thing to do, but logistically and, in actuality, should not have been. Do not let any person stand in the way of you maintaining your relationship with your children.
While you are taking the steps necessary to have your child return to your home permanently, an investigation will be ongoing and hopefully completed by CPS. Once the investigation is completed, it will be determined whether family-based safety services are appropriate for you and your family. If that is the determination made, then your case will be transferred to that Department of CPS, and a new caseworker will be assigned to work with you. This new caseworker will schedule an in-person meeting with you and any other adult receiving services through the state at a specific location, essentially within one week of the case being transferred. Family members and people living in the home more likely attend given their role in having your child returned to your home. All of you would be able to discuss the situation directly with Child Protective Services to ensure the safe return of your child home.
If you are unsuccessful in completing the family-based safety services process, your case may need to be re-evaluated by Child Protective Services. In that case, it may be necessary to involuntarily remove your child from your home or even from the friend or family member with whom your child is currently residing. For this reason, I would certainly recommend that you and your family fully engaged in the family-based safety services process to keep your child in a setting that is more comfortable for him or her. Furthermore, now would be a great time in your case to speak with an experienced CPS defense attorney like those with our office. This is the time that your keys can go in one of two directions: either towards successful completion of the case and getting CPS out of your life or towards the direction of having a potential court date in your near future where your parental rights could be terminated outright.
A plan of service in conjunction with a Texas CPS case
You will find out through being involved with the CPS case that CPS will work with you as much as possible to develop plans to see your progress through a case and eventually have your child reunited with you and have your case closed successfully. One of these types of voluntary agreements between you and CPS is called a plan of service. Once your family-based safety services case has been opened, your caseworker must develop a Service plan with you no more than three weeks after the beginning of your case.
The Service plan will outline why CPS became involved with your family and what steps must be completed to return your child to your home permanently. Paul, these steps will serve an immediate purpose of alleviating concerns of abuse or neglect if your child. Criteria for how your progress will be evaluated and tangible steps towards completing the objectives in your Service plan will also be outlined. You choose to sign off on this safety plan to allow you 2 keep your child in your home most likely. On the other hand, if you refuse to sign the service plan, this will likely result in your child being removed from your home by the state. For today's blog post, keep in mind that if you are concerned with your parental rights being terminated, then any failure to cooperate with CPS or involuntary removal of your child from your home certainly would not help in that regard.
What happens at the end of a family-based safety services case?
Assuming that no additional time is needed for you and your family to complete the requested services, a CPS caseworker would request that your case be closed when the service is laid out for you and your family are no longer necessary. By the same token, if you have been unable or unwilling to participate in the services provided for you, then it is likely that the caseworker would then request that your child be involuntarily removed from your home. Throughout the process, the caseworker will conduct home visits and make a face to face contact with any person that has a plan of service with the agency.
I have spoken with parents over the years who are often confused about whether their CPS case is closed. Understandably, when dealing with so many people with the state, mixed messages can be received in misunderstandings that can be had about the status of the case. For this reason, I always want to clarify to people that if your case is closed after the family-based safety services stage, then a caseworker should send you a letter stating that the case has been closed formally. Any other adult person involved with the Service plan will also receive a letter stating this. Likewise, if the Service plan has not been abided by or problems continue to persist, the case will be transferred to a different agency within the Department of Family and Protective Services.
What happens if your child needs to be removed from your home involuntarily?
Unfortunately, for a host of different reasons, the result of a family-based safety services or Child Protective Services case may be that your child is removed from your home temporarily. Please note that this does not mean that your child will never be able to be returned home to you. It also does not mean that your parental rights are going to be terminated. However, it does mean that those options are available to a family court judge and that you need to conduct yourself with this knowledge in mind.
As I mentioned a moment ago, having legal representation during a CPS case is essential. There are times when you may not need an attorney for a divorce. There may even be some circumstances where you don't need an attorney in a child custody case. However, I would rarely tell you that you don't need an attorney for a Child Protective Services case. The fact is that the stakes are too high in this type of case and the worst result in a CPS case ends up with you not having a legal relationship with your child any longer.
If CPS wants to temporarily remove your child from your home, a lawsuit must be filed called a suit affecting the parent-child relationship. Contained within that lawsuit would be in an affidavit that states the specific allegations used by CPS to remove your child and a request that the Department of Family and Protective Services be named as the temporary managing conservator of your child.
Keep in mind that all of the evidence and information gathered by a family-based safety services employee or a Child Protective Services employee to that point in your case can be used against you in requesting permission from a court to remove your child against your will. This is why it is so crucial for you to be fully involved in your case even if you do not agree with everything done to that point by the state of Texas. Given the short- and long-term implications that are a part of the decision to remove your child from your home, I couldn't recommend any harder for you to have an attorney.
What can happen in the event of an emergency
If CPS believes there is an emergency circumstance in your home that requires immediate removal of your child, two different paths can be taken. The Department of Family Protective Services can remove your child without a court order if emergency circumstances are in place. If this is done in your case, you need to know that CPS must immediately file a lawsuit and request that a judge appoints the state as a temporary managing conservator. At the same time, they must also request that an attorney ad litem be appointed to represent your child's interests in the pending lawsuit. The Department can have a hearing held without your permission and without your being present.
For these purposes, emergency circumstances require there to be an immediate danger to your child's physical health or safety, such as if your child has been or is about to be the victim of sexual abuse. Additionally, I have seen drug use in the home used as a pretext for an emergency circumstance that justifies the immediate removal from their home without a court order.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan
if you have any questions about the material in today's blog post, I recommend that you contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer to give charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations serve as a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and the services that our law office can provide to you as a client. We thank you for your interest in our law practice, and we look forward to you joining us again tomorrow as we continue to post relevant and unique content about the world of Texas family law.
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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 your spouse is being investigated by CPS 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 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.