In Texas, Child Protective Services (CPS) becomes involved in family-related issues when they are referred by the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Investigations division, which is responsible for reviewing allegations of child abuse and neglect.
While the statutory and theoretical goals of CPS are family reunification, the agency doesn’t always get it right and can often overstep in their attempts to investigate the matter.
CPS takes every child abuse or child neglect claim very seriously. Therefore, until an investigation is completed, CPS may attempt to scare and intimidate parents into unnecessarily relinquishing some of their rights to their children or even some of their constitutional rights. In some extreme cases, parents may not be able to maintain custody of their children while the investigation or lawsuit is pending.
The most important thing to remember when dealing with CPS is that they normally cannot forcefully remove your child from your care, custody, and control without a court order signed by a judge giving them permission to do so. This is typically done in the more extreme cases.
If you have been contacted by CPS due to an investigation regarding your child, or CPS has removed your child from your home and placed them in foster care, it is absolutely crucial to know your rights and all of your options in getting your little one back. In this article, I will outline the primary reasons why CPS may take your child to foster care and how to form a CPS defense to restore your family.
Why CPS Gets Involved
A critical component of child abuse claims is that they can originate from anyone. Parents, friends, relatives — literally anyone can contact Child Protective Services if they believe that a child is being abused or neglected. Some professions such as teachers, doctors, and law enforcement officers are required by law to report anything they suspect may be child abuse or neglect.
According to CPS, abuse is defined as malicious actions that are verbal, physical, or sexual. Neglect, however, is when a parent or guardian intentionally puts the child in harm’s way, such as failing to provide sufficient food, clothing, shelter, or other care.
The department’s involvement in the initial investigation can range from simple interviews to requesting that you participate in voluntary services. In more extreme cases, they will move forward with filing a lawsuit to compel your participation in services or even to try and terminate your parental rights.
How Can You Defend Yourself Against CPS?
One of the more scary aspects of a CPS investigation is finding out that your child has been interviewed alone without your knowledge and consent. This is allowed by law when CPS initiates their investigations into a child abuse or neglect claim.
CPS is not required to notify parents of their investigation, and the agency is required by law not to disclose who reported the alleged abuse or neglect. As a parent or legal guardian, you have a right to know what the CPS is doing. That is why it is so important that you contact an attorney as soon as you are made aware of any CPS investigation involving your child.
Even if you simply suspect that you might be the subject of a CPS investigation, you should contact an attorney immediately to discuss your options. Those options can include the following:
— Cooperation. In most cases, CPS will provide out-of-court requests to the parent(s) to complete in order for them to close their investigation. Sometimes that can be as simple as participating in interviews and being questioned by the caseworkers. In other cases, that may mean participating in parenting classes or taking drug tests.
Every investigation is different. Being aggressive or trying to deliberately obstruct the case can make the situation worse in certain circumstances, but sometimes it is absolutely necessary to prevent government overreach into your family’s life. You should always consult an attorney before choosing to voluntarily cooperate with CPS.
— Refusal to Cooperate. Much like cooperation may help remove CPS from your life faster, in some cases refusing to cooperate can sometimes yield the same result. It is possible for CPS to conclude their investigations without your cooperation.
Again, every CPS investigation is different. Sometimes the investigation closes quickly when parents aren’t cooperating, and sometimes it can spur them to file a lawsuit to force your cooperation. You should always consult an attorney before choosing to outright refuse to cooperate with CPS.
— File a Lawsuit for Custody of Your Child. In many cases, you may not be the subject of CPS’s investigation, and they are contacting you due to the actions of the other parent. You may be finding out about the wrongdoing of the other parent for the first time, and CPS may want to try to place the child with you before taking any more extreme actions. If this is the case, you should talk to an attorney about filing a lawsuit for custody of your child.
A child custody lawyer will not only be able to navigate the CPS investigation process with you and provide insight into what’s going on, but also file a private lawsuit to either obtain custody of your child from the other parent, or restrict the other parent’s visitation until the abuse or neglect can be ruled out.
Contact Blair Parker Today
Being contacted by CPS and dealing with a CPS investigation or lawsuit can be devastating. As a Texas family law attorney having dealt with CPS for almost ten years, I know the pain, fear, and confusion you’re experiencing. That’s why I am committed to providing the best legal counsel possible for your CPS matter.
Throughout my career, I have helped families in Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Harris County build a strong CPS defense. Foster care is no place for any child, and your rights to your child deserve to be fought for and protected. That’s why if you’re contacted by CPS, suspect that you may be the subject of a CPS investigation, or are served with a lawsuit filed by CPS, your first call should be to my office.
Don’t try to negotiate, fight, or deal with CPS on your own. Call my offices at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to discuss the specific details of your situation. I look forward to helping you defend your family and get CPS out of your life.