Child Protective Services in Denton & Surrounding Counties
In the State of Texas, any person who has reason to believe that a child’s physical, mental or emotional welfare/health is being adversely affected by either abuse or negligence are bound by an ethical duty to immediately report the information that they know about the situation to Child Protective Services. If that person is a professional, such as a teacher, preacher, counselor, or doctor, they may have a legal duty to report such information. Some of those reports are certainly valid and some are likely based on miscommunication, ulterior motives or overactive imaginations. Regardless of the circumstances, the best possible outcome for you and your children or loved one cannot be achieved without knowing your rights, your options, the law and the procedure of a Child Protective Services case.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN THEY SHOW UP AT YOUR DOOR?
When CPS shows up at your door, they are there to determine if there is a basis for further investigation or even immediate removal of your children. This is a truly frightening experience for both the parents and children involved. It is important to know that you do have the right to request that the CPS investigator delay interviewing you and the children and coming into your house until such time as your attorney can be present. That request will only delay the process for a short period of time. That time should be used to consult with and retain an attorney experienced in Child Protective Services cases to protect your rights. It is important to take action immediately as delaying the case without a valid reason or for longer than is absolutely necessary will only create more suspicion and confusion on the part of CPS and is more likely to result in the emergency removal of your children.
If you are represented by a competent, experienced attorney they may be able to prevent in depth investigation, delay removal, secure placement of the children with a family member, negotiate an agreement for you to work services or reach an agreement with CPS that would prevent removal of your children or preserve your rights if the children are removed to allow for them to be returned to you as quickly as possible.
THE PROCEDURE AND DEADLINES IN A CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES CASE
When a report is made to CPS the first thing they do is assign a priority level to the case. When CPS first makes contact with you they intend to investigate the report to determine if there is a reason to immediately remove the children from your home. It is important to recognize that every report that qualifies for investigation in CPS intake must be investigated. CPS will not go away until they complete that investigation and you cannot dissuade them by creating delay, avoiding contact, hiding the children or resolving any issues that may exist in your home. The investigation will still go forward – only the result is subject to change. Dodging CPS without a valid reason, hiding the children or leaving the county will likely result in removal your children. CPS does have the right and the ability to go to your children’s school, daycare or family placement to interview them without you present if they cannot make contact with them and verify their safety through you.
Possible Outcomes of Investigation
- CPS may determine that the report is not valid or is no longer a concern and close the case.
- CPS may elect to work cooperatively with your family to help you obtain assistance through community resources before closing your case.
- CPS may require you to work services to alleviate their concerns while your children remain in your home with you.
- CPS could also require that your children be placed with a friend or family member for a short period of time while you work to resolve the issues that they are concerned with.
- Finally, CPS could remove your children from your home and seek temporary managing conservatorship of them through the court.
The outcome of that investigation is often determined by the advice and representation that you receive from an experienced attorney during the process.
If you children are removed a formal legal case will be filed by CPS. Following removal an Adversary hearing must be held within 14 days of that removal. That hearing will be held in the District Court and will determine whether or not there was a valid reason to remove the child and CPS should be granted temporary managing conservatorship or, alternatively, the children should be returned to your home immediately.
If the removal is found to be valid, a determination will also be made as to what services CPS and the Court will require you to work in order to obtain the return of your children. That hearing may also determine whether your children are placed in foster care or with a friend or family member during the term of the case. It is extremely important to have an attorney present at the Adversary hearing as the determinations made at that hearing will affect every aspect of the remainder of the case and generally cannot be undone or altered.
If the removal if determined to be valid and CPS is granted temporary managing conservatorship a dismissal date will be set one year from the date of the Adversary Hearing. This means you have less then one year to secure return of your child, to negotiate some other agreed upon outcome or to prepare for trial wherein CPS will likely be requesting termination of your parental rights.
If the Court determines that there was no valid reason to remove the children, then your children will be returned to you immediately.
A Status Hearing will be held within 60 days of the Adversary hearing. The focus of this hearing is typically ensuring that the parents are aware of the services they are being asked to work and reviewing the progress they have made on scheduling those services.
First Permanency Hearing
The first Permanency Hearing is held within 90 days of the Status Hearing. This hearing is more in depth and focuses on the parents’ progress or completion of services, any needs the children may have and how they should be addressed, any change in placement that is necessary or requested, any changes that need to be made to the orders, any requests for return of the children that need to be considered and other contested matters.
Second Permanency Hearing
The second permanency hearing is held within 90 days of the first Permanency Hearing and reviews the same matters as the first Permanency Hearing. This hearing is typically more serious because it is nearing the end of the case and a trial date is likely looming.
A Child Protective Services trial can be before a judge or a jury. A trial must be heard before the one-year deadline from the Adversary hearing. The outcome could be return of your children to you, permanent placement of your children with a friend or family member, with or without the termination of the parents’ parental rights, or the termination of the parents’ parental rights and subsequent adoption of the children.
A NIGHTMARE FOR YOUR FAMILY
Dealing with CPS can be a nightmare for a variety of reasons. Not the least of these is all the extremely complicated processes and systems you need to understand and navigate simply to keep the child you love and cherish at home where they belong, have them returned to you as quickly as possible or secure their placement with a trusted family member right away. Navigating this treacherous process without the aid of an attorney who knows the system and Texas law will likely hamper your chances of accomplishing those goals.
That’s why it’s so important to give Brandi a call. She has represented parents, children and other family members in Child Protective Services cases for ten years. Brandi has handled CPS cases in Denton, Collin, Dallas and Cooke counties and is familiar with the judges, Assistant District Attorneys, CPS investigators and caseworkers, CASA supervisors and advocates and other attorneys likely to be involved in or appointed on your case. If you live in Denton, Collin, Dallas or Cooke counties, your first move should be to call Underwood Law Office when:
- You fear your child may be removed from your home by CPS and you want to prevent this from happening to your family.
- Your child has been removed from your home by CPS and you want to contest this decision.
- Your child has been removed from your home by CPS and you want to seek placement of your child with a relative while they are in the custody of CPS.
- Your child has been removed from your home by CPS and you want to navigate the process of a CPS case in the best way possible to allow you to prevent termination of your parental rights and secure return of your child as soon as possible.
- You are someone seeking the placement of a child who is currently in the custody of CPS in your home.
If you are facing a CPS investigation in North Texas, call Underwood Law Office for a free consultation. Brandi Underwood has been practicing law in Texas for the past ten years and is a member of the Denton County Bar Association and Collin County Bar Association – Family Law Section. Brandi has recently attended extensive training in trial preparation for CPS trial preparation and mediation and has obtained certification to mediate Child Protective Services cases in the state of Texas. She has worked with clients on all kinds of Child Protective Services and other family law situations, helping them protect vulnerable members in their family and others to the full extent of the law. Brandi has extensive experience representing parents, children and even extended family members in Child Protective Services cases.
When you are fighting to protect a child, it only makes sense to seek the legal assistance of an attorney who specializes in CPS and Family Law like Brandi Underwood. If you live in North Texas, specifically Denton, Aubrey, Pilot Point, Sanger, Krum, Carrollton, Flower Mound, Lewisville, Plano, Frisco, Prosper, Celina, Anna, McKinney, Allen, The Colony and the surrounding areas and you have a legal question or concern about Child Protective Services cases in Texas, call Brandi to schedule a free consultation at 940.372.0931 or by fill out the online contact form.
There is no cost or obligation. Underwood Law Office understands that such situations can be delicate, and that time can be an issue. Call our office right away to get Brandi working on your case today.