Many parents are understandably scared when they hear that CPS may be investigating their family, especially when the situation under investigation resulted from a misunderstanding or a one-time mistake. Unfortunately, when CPS gets involved, things can get messy, and knowing what to do is challenging. As a parent, all you care about is the well-being of your family. And while CPS is fundamentally committed to the same thing, they do not know your family as you do, and you may end up at odds.
If you are in a situation where CPS has taken your child or have another issue with them, we recommend reaching out to a lawyer as soon as possible for help. At the Law Firm of Johnson & Gaskill PLLC, we know how terrifying this is, but we are here to provide our clients with the legal support they need while defending against CPS.
Keep reading to learn more about CPS defense and how an attorney can help you.
The Removal Process
The Child Protective Services (CPS) branch of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) becomes involved with families when they are referred to them by Child Protective Investigations (CPI). CPI investigates reports of child abuse and/or neglect. If it is determined that a child is being abused or neglected, CPS has the right to remove the child from the home to protect them.
Investigations may involve:
- Interviews with family members
- Interviews with friends and acquaintances
- Interviews with teachers and other people who have contact with the child
- Interviews with others who may have insight into the situation
- Home visits
The removal process typically begins with an emergency removal. This can be accomplished with or without a court order. In cases where the DFPS has removed a child from the home, parents have the right to contest the removal. Within 14 days of the emergency removal, the Court must set a hearing to determine if DFPS will continue as Temporary Managing Conservator of the Child.
Depending on the circumstances of the case, the parents may need to request a full evidentiary hearing. At this hearing, DFPS must demonstrate that they meet the legal burden for seeking removal. When DFPS cannot meet the legal burden, the child will be returned to the parent. However, if DFPS can meet that legal burden, DFPS may be named Temporary Managing Conservator of the Child, and the removal process will continue.
To meet the legal burden for removing the child, DFPS must show that:
- The child’s physical health and safety were in danger, which was directly caused by an act of a parent or the parent's failure to act.
- The need for protection necessitated immediate removal of the child, and that reasonable effort was made to prevent removal.
- The danger to the child would continue if the child returned home, despite reasonable effort to enable the child to return home.
Why You Need an Attorney for Your Removal Hearing
During the removal hearing, DFPS will likely have an attorney representing them. This attorney will provide evidence supporting DFPS’s decision to remove the child from their parents’ care. There may also be a guardian ad litem assigned to represent the child. At this hearing, parents are also allowed to have an attorney to help them put forward their own evidence defending against the CPS removal.
These hearings can be incredibly intense, and DFPS is known to defend its decision to remove a child doggedly. Going into these hearings without your own legal representation is not recommended. Having an experienced, skilled attorney represent you can help increase the likelihood of a successful outcome for your case. It can also help you feel more confident and supported during this very stressful process.
At the Law Firm of Johnson & Gaskill PLLC, we have extensive experience representing families in CPS removal cases in Texas. We are prepared to use our knowledge and resources to help you and your family. Send us a message online to discuss your situation in a confidential consultation with one of our lawyers.