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What role do fathers play in visitation during a Texas CPS case?

If you are a father of a child going through a Child Protective Services (CPS) case, then you may feel a bit left out of the process. The odds are decent that your child lives primarily with her mother and that any CPS involvement in your child’s life relates to an action taken (or not taken) by her mother. You could have found out about the case from CPS or your child’s mother. However, you found out about the case, and it is probable that you are worried, confused, and have questions about what role you can play in the case and the investigation.

Fathers have just as much a right to make decisions and spend time with their children as do mothers. That is true until a court steps in and creates orders on the conservatorship of a child. If you have previously been to court and have court orders that govern visitation, possession, access, and child support, you know the times you can see your child and the rights that you have as far as decision-making capabilities are concerned.

No matter what rights a court has granted you, you have the potential to play a significant role in your child’s life. This is especially true during a difficult time, like a CPS case. You can support your child and your family during this time. You can play a role in creating a visitation plan. You can act as a temporary managing conservator of your child during the case if that is deemed to be in your child’s best interests.

Once you are identified as the father of this child, you should take advantage of every opportunity you are given to spend time with your child and contribute to creating any safety or service plans. It is typical that once CPS identifies you as the father and the extent of your involvement with your family is determined, you can increase your role in parenting your child during a CPS case.

Steps were taken by CPS to involve you as a father during a case/investigation.

As odd as it may sound, you need to be located and identified to become an active participant in your child's CPS case. You may have to be tracked down in another city or state in many situations if you do not live close by to your child. You must return phone calls from CPS during this stage in your case. As the father, you have an important role to play in the case and can have a significant impact on the proceedings if you are involved and willing to lend a hand when it comes to finding a place for your child to stay during the case.

Even if your child’s mother is hesitant regarding involving you in the case, CPS should sit down with all parties to make sure that everyone is aware that you as the father have a right to be contacted with updates about the case and to possibly provide housing if it is deemed to be in your child’s best interests. All relatives of yours and your child’s mother should be aware of this.

It could be the case that your child’s mother has never allowed you to see your child. If you live in another state or lack the financial resources to do so, you may have never had an opportunity to have a court address this issue even if you have never been in contact with your child before, and you must make yourself available to CPS during this time. It is now your responsibility to provide care to your child and support (financial, emotional, etc.) as your child’s case begins to pick up steam.

If you are not in a position where you can temporarily house your child during the case, you should be consulted with as far as what relatives or other adult friends of your family would be able to house your child. You should begin contacting family and close friends to let them know what is happening with your child so that they may be aware of the circumstances. I'm sure you prefer to have your child placed with one of these folks than to say with a foster family or in CPS care.

There will be doctor’s visits, planning sessions, and updates on the phone provided by CPS that you will need to be available to receive. You will have the ability to shape the sort of planning that goes with your child regarding where he lives, what sort of visitation you can have with your child and any other important pieces of information like this. Your child’s foster family (if he is placed into foster care) will be notified of your involvement in the case as well.

Planning visitation helps to maintain family connections.

The more involvement that you as a father have in planning a visitation schedule for your child, the greater the chance you will have of becoming involved in your child's life after a hearing. If you have only been able to have sparse contact with your child to this point in their life, use this CPS case as an opportunity to bond with your child and create a relationship that may not have been able to exist. Your family and extended family are likely to be grateful for the opportunity.

Form a support system and keep them involved

The weight of the world may feel like it's on your shoulders, but it is not. This CPS case will allow you to involve your support system to help maintain some normalcy in your child’s life during the case. The more involved you are, the more your family’s cultural, linguistic, educational, religious, and other needs will be considered and implemented within safety, service, and visitation planning.

Your child’s circumstances are changing, and a visitation plan must consider those changes.

As your child's needs change during a case, the visitation plan should change as well. Your child may be limited to only supervised visitation with their mother and even with you at the outset of a case. However, as you show that you can have unsupervised care with your child, greater latitude will be provided to you in this regard. However, to get to the point where you have unsupervised visitation with your child, you need to take advantage of the time you are afforded at the beginning of the case.

CPS will want your child to be able to have visitation sessions that occur in a "home-like" environment. Sometimes this means that you will be able to have visitation in the home of a family member. It may mean that you see your child at a CPS facility or other court-ordered supervised visitation facility at the outset of a case. Chairs, couches, games, and toys will likely be available for you all to engage with. It isn't your living room, but it is as close as you can get at that moment.

The schedule and needs of your child and you will be a part of this analysis. If you have a work schedule that lends itself to frequent, shorter visits during the day, you should raise this point with the CPS caseworker. Your visitation session for your child should reflect this availability. The same can be said for your child’s medical needs. You should be involved as much as possible in the medical appointments that your child has to attend. Communicating your child’s needs and your willingness to participate in their daily care is essential.

You and CPS need to keep in mind the long-term goals for your child.

Ultimately, whatever discussions and planning with CPS, you and your family should be geared towards achieving a permanency goal for your child. If the permanency goal is to place your child with an aunt or uncle, that aunt or uncle should be a huge part of the planning process. If the permanency goal involves moving closer to where your child lives now and taking over as managing conservator, you need to show CPS that you are moving towards that goal.

Your role in your child’s life will increase, assuming that reunification with you is the goal.

No matter what your role has been in your child’s life, you can look at this CPS case as the beginning of a new life for you and your child. If you are gaining a stronger relationship with your child and are bonding well, it could be that you are going to be named as the likely permanent managing conservator of your child. This is great news for you, and the judge will give you increased access and decision-making capabilities to further this goal. However, your willingness to participate in the process early can have a tremendous impact on the case later on.

What role can you play if your child is being placed into foster care?

Foster care is a scary term for parents going through CPS cases. It means that a great deal of your personal autonomy regarding your child is being ceded to a stranger. It is even tougher to deal with because having your child placed with a foster family is a sign that something is lacking in your ability to parent your child- at least in the eyes of CPS.

With that said, you will have an opportunity to play a role in providing input to CPS about where your child should be placed. Your extended family, friends, and the resources available in your child’s community should be noted and implemented in your child’s case. CPS even has a Family Group Decision Making process that will allow all of you to provide input about your child's future and immediate housing. Common goals in this scenario would include enabling your family to feel involved in the planning process, to increase the frequency with which you and your family can visit your child, and a gradual sharing of the tasks necessary in helping to raise your child on a day to day basis.

What are the expectations that are in place for you about this case?

You and CPS will work to identify appropriate expectations and behaviors about your child for the extent of your case. Successful visitation is oftentimes dependent on the following types of behaviors:

  • -disciplining your child with non-violent means
  • -calling in advance of a visit if you will not be able to attend
  • -attending visitation alone unless pre-cleared to bring another family member by CPS
  • -bringing toys, games, clothes, and other items that may be helpful to your child during this transition time
  • -determining what you can and cannot speak to your child about, re the CPS case

Interested in learning more about the nuts and bolts of a CPS investigation in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

On behalf of the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, I would like to thank you for showing an interest in our office and the content of today’s blog post. If you have any questions about what you have read or need clarification on anything contained in the blog, please do not hesitate to contact our office. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week here in our office. These consultations are a great opportunity to ask questions and receive feedback about your specific circumstances.

Our attorneys take a great deal of pride in representing our clients throughout the courts of southeast Texas. We appreciate your time and look forward to the opportunity to work with you in the future.

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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.

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