the most intimidating part of a Texas Child Protective Services case is the notion that your child could be removed from your house because the agency has found that you abused or neglected your child. Not only is this difficult to manage from an emotional perspective but the reality is that there are certain legal consequences to having your child removed from your home. the fact that you will need to go to court to have your child returned home is yet another intimidating part of this process. It is bad enough to have your child removed from the house. But to have to go through a state agency and a judge to have your child returned home can be a truly intimidating prospect.
On the one hand, a CPS case well not necessarily a girl just like a typical family law case. Yes, there certainly are elements of family law within a CPS case. However, the reality is that a CPS case is largely determined by deadlines set forth by the state in terms of how your child can be removed from your home and what the state in you need to accomplish along the way to have your child returned. All the while, your child is going to be in an unfamiliar environment away from you possibly for the first time in his or her life. This is where the case becomes less an intellectual pursuit than an emotional one where you are going to have to do whatever it takes to have your child returned home.
The question that you need to ask yourself is how you get from the point where CPS removes your child to a point where your child can be returned home to you. It is even better to have your child returned home sooner rather than later. In today's blog post we are going to discuss some of the methods that you can employ during a CPS case to have your child returned home to you. This is not to give the impression that in most CPS cases your child will be removed from your home. Or, even that it is impossible to have your child returned home once he or she is removed in the first place. However, since this is a possible end something that you need to be aware of I would like to cover it with you in this space so that you can be as prepared as possible for this outcome. When you are prepared you will be able to approach the case in a much more controlled fashion so that you can work with your attorney to be able to have your child back in your home.
With that said, I cannot recommend highly enough being able to have an experienced family law attorney to assist you in matters related to your case. To go without representation means to run the risk that your child is not only removed from your house but not returned either. Please contact the law office of Brian Fagan today if you have a CPS case on your doorstep or if you believe one is imminent. We can assist you in a free-of-charge consultation by providing you with information and perspective about the CPS case process and how an attorney can help you and your family.
What services can be provided to you and your family?
CPS will work with you and your family during a case to have your child returned home. It is only in the most extraordinary of circumstances where the agency would not consider working with you from the beginning to have your child returned home to you. So long as you cooperate in the investigation, communicate with the agency, and work with the investigators and other persons involved in your case there is a good chance that your child will be returned home to you- and sooner than you think. Here are some of the options that may be available to you considering the circumstances of your case.
First, let’s consider what CPS could make available to you if you and your family cooperate with the investigation. Even if the agency does not find that abuse or neglect has occurred within your home, they may still determine that you may benefit from some supportive services regardless. In that spirit, CPS may offer you family-based safety services to help you in some way related to your parenting.
Family-Based Safety Services is the primary method for the agency to help you and your family while doing what it must do to protect the best interests of your child. Typically, Family Based Safety Services is recommended for families who have done everything right in terms of participation in the CPS case but still need some help around the edges of their life as far as being able to provide the best possible environment for their child to succeed. As such, the safety services that can be provided or recommended by CPS are completely voluntary. You can choose to review what is being offered by CPS and simply tell them that you are not interested.
However, bear in mind that CPS will have the option to remove your child from your home if you decline to take advantage of these services. The safety plan will lay out some goals that you can set for yourself both for the short and long terms that coincide with benefits for your children. Creating a more cohesive home that is free of danger to your child is the goal of CPS in this instance. While it is wise to consider your options when it comes to taking advantage of family-based safety services remember that there are consequences to not engaging in those lessons and activities.
When your child needs to be removed from your home
Initially, the removal of your child from your home and the placement of him or her elsewhere will be done with the intent to have him or she returned home to you as soon as possible. This is known as a temporary removal. Temporary removals accomplish a few things simultaneously. Most importantly it provides your child with a safe landing place after it was discovered that some element of their home life with you was an immediate risk of harm to them- physically, emotionally, or otherwise. Additionally, the temporary removal of your child from your home allows you to begin social services or whatever kind of programs may be made available to you at that time.
For instance, a parental child safety placement is a temporary out-of-home placement made by a parent with a caregiver who is either related to the child or has a long-standing and significant relationship with the child or family. Picture a circumstance where your child is placed with your aunt who your child knows very well. Maybe she lives in the apartment down the hall from you or sees you frequently at your home. In this situation, your child would be comfortable with your aunt, and this would accomplish those twin goals of having your child be safe while helping you to accomplish whatever objectives you have agreed to with CPS.
In this case, you can give legal consent to this adult to make decisions on behalf of your child regarding many of the most important areas of your child’s life. You can do so with having to first go through a court case to transfer conservatorship rights. Being able to take your child to the doctor if he or she is not feeling well is a basic part of raising a child. If your child needs to live with a person across town from your current address it would also make sense for your child to be enrolled in a school close to where he or she lives.
Another important aspect of this discussion is that if your child does not receive public assistance already then, the temporary caregiver may apply for those benefits. Putting your child in a position to succeed means understanding what benefits may be available to you all and then putting your best foot forward as far as securing those benefits for your child. This does not mean that you are being replaced as a parent. Rather, someone is trying their hardest to do what is best for your kids for as long as he or she has them in their possession.
What can be done if you need help but do not cooperate?
So far, we have been talking about situations in which you need help when it comes to supportive services. However, now I would like to go over what options CPS has if you do not cooperate with their investigation. Whether that means not communicating clearly with your investigator, not turning in paperwork on time, or otherwise being difficult to work with, then CPS has some options at their disposal when it comes to supporting services with more "teeth" than the other options that we have discussed so far today.
The first and most logical option that CPS can choose to take advantage of is to obtain a court order that forces you to take part in whatever sort of classes or services are being offered at the time of your case. Refusing to participate and not cooperating in an investigation are tell-tale signs of mistrust or trying to hide something. A court order that carries with it significant penalties If you choose not to follow it.
Abuse and neglect are serious things that can have a lasting impact on your kids. Even if you do not see the physical bruising from any one incident, there can be emotional trauma at a very deep level. As a result, these services recommended for your child from CPS are intended to primarily benefit your child. Any incidental benefit for you as a parent is just icing on the cake, as it were.
Ultimately, the consequences of not participating in these services can result in your child being removed from your home temporarily. Evidence of your choice not to participate in an investigation or these supportive services can be utilized as evidence against you for the return home of your child later in your case. This is a significant risk and not one worth taking in most circumstances. The best plan is to remember that you are working these avenues to benefit your child first and foremost. When you remember this, you do not need to look at every step of the case as a burden but rather as a key you need to unlock the door to your child.
What if CPS needs to order someone to exit your home?
It might become apparent to the agency that an adult Is living in your home who presents a clear risk of harm to your child. In that case, you may be asked to speak to the person about leaving your home. If the person chooses not to listen to you then the CPS caseworker may need to step in and address the problem directly with the adult in question. Here a "kick-out order" could be exactly what the agency uses to protect your child’s best interests and their immediate safety, as well.
Rather than making your child leave the home as the victim in this scenario, it would make more sense to have the perpetrator leave the home instead. A child needs stability in their home life. If your child has been suffering because of tumultuous home life, then there is a clear benefit to their being able to remain in their home while having the bad actor removed as soon as possible. Here is how you can navigate these waters with assistance from CPS and their attorney in court.
A temporary restraining order can be utilized by you to remove the perpetrator if you promise to keep an eye on this person and inform the court if he or she attempts to regain access to the home. This is a serious offense and something that the agency and the CPS court judge will take very seriously if your case reaches this stage. The temporary restraining order lasts only for fourteen days as ideally you and your attorney would be able to attend a temporary order hearing or permanency hearing to address this subject of where your child is going to be living.
What happens if family violence occurred in your home?
A permanent protective order requires that a judge find that family violence occurred in your home and is likely to occur again in the future. No visible bruising or marks are a necessary pre-requisite for having a permanent protective order granted in your case. Your child, if he or she is older than 12, can provide a statement under oath regarding the incident in question. Temporary orders can be obtained from the court while you wait for a hearing on permanent protective orders.
Ex Parte Orders- What are they?
The purpose of an ex parte order is to give CPS the authority to remove your child from your home before an adversarial hearing can occur. CPS will be named as the temporary managing conservator of your child before you ever have a chance to counter their evidence or put up a case of your own. If you think that this sounds off base or unfair you would not be entirely wrong. The legal system, be it criminal or civil, is an adversarial one. You put forth evidence and the other side does the same. The judge or jury looks at the evidence and the relevant laws and makes a decision depending on each.
An ex parte hearing occurs only because there are emergency circumstances in place. Your child would be at such a heightened risk of harm that he or she may suffer if a quick hearing cannot be held. So, CPS could remove your child after an ex parte hearing was held giving them temporary conservatorship rights. This can be done with the understanding that a second hearing must be held in short order where you would be allowed to present evidence. There, a judge would determine whether CPS could submit sufficient evidence showing that it would be necessary to maintain conservatorship rights. In other words, that the best interests of your child were better served by it being the primary conservator of your child rather than you.
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 consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of family law as well as how your family's circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.