A Katy Family Law Attorney Can Help.
Have your children been taken by the Texas Department of Family and Children’s Services? Our team at the Adams Law Firm could help. We have over 35 years of experience in handling these types of cases and will do everything in our power to help protect your children and your family. The Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) is responsible for investigating possible cases of child abuse or child neglect throughout the state. They are also responsible for placing children in foster care and placing them in adoptive homes.
If CPS decides that children are unsafe in their home, for whatever reason, they could choose to start the process of moving the children to another environment. A formal investigation will take place, which will end in a hearing. The result of this hearing is called the deposition. The deposition will either be that there is reason to believe that abuse is taking place, that there is no abuse, or that the investigation was inconclusive.
Texas law states that if anyone has reason to believe that a child is being abused, they have to report their concern to CPS. When CPS receives a complaint, they will have to visit the child in order to investigate whether the complaint is valid. During the investigation, the child may be questioned, the criminal background of the parents or guardians will be researched, and any injuries the child suffered from will be investigated. If the CPS determines that neglect or abuse was taking place, the case is handed over to the local law enforcement, and the matter becomes a criminal investigation.
What Does the Department of Child Protective Services Do?
Child Protective Services, or CPS, is a part of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. This government-run department was created to promote child safety and welfare and ensure that children are being cared for in safe and stable home environments. This department is also responsible for investigating and responding to complaints of child abuse or neglect.
If an investigation uncovers conditions that are deemed hazardous, unsuitable, or if evidence of abuse or neglect is uncovered, CPS may deem it necessary to remove a child from the care of their parents. Depending on the circumstances and the immediate needs of the child, CPS can remove the child with or without a court order.
Who Can File a CPS Complaint?
Almost anyone with a concern regarding a child’s safety and welfare may file a complaint with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Technically, in the state of Texas, anyone that suspects the abuse or neglect of a child must report their suspicions. As long as the complaint is made in good faith, the reporter is shielded from civil and criminal liability. This rule holds as long as the reporter is not the one engaging in the abuse or making a false report against another person. Failing to report suspected abuse is a criminal offense and considered a Class A misdemeanor.
In the state of Texas, like many other states, workers in certain professions are considered “mandatory” reporters. Health care works, teachers, day-care workers, attorneys, or anyone that is licensed by the state or works in a state-licensed or operated facility are mandatory reporters. Those who have direct contact with children on a regular basis as a part of their job are also mandatory reporters.
These people must file a report within 48 hours after first suspecting abuse or neglect. Professionals may not delegate this task to another. They are personally responsible for filing a complaint with the proper authorities. Failure to report suspicious activity can result in a criminal offense. It may also impact that person’s job.
What a CPS Investigation Looks Like
There are several facets to a CPS investigation. In order to open an investigation, the agency must receive a complaint. When this complaint comes in, it is reviewed, and an investigation may be triggered. Once an investigator is assigned to the case, they will contact the parent of the child, and interviews will take place.
An investigator may seek to interview the following:
- The child the complaint was made about
- Other children in the home
- The parents
- Teachers or caregivers
- Family members
- Neighbors or others who may have relevant information
An investigator will typically make visits to the child’s home to assess it for safety concerns. In the course of the investigation, the person looking into the allegations will want access to the child’s medical information, including mental health records. More information, witness statements, and other interviews may be necessary, depending on the specifics of the investigation. While time frames vary, an investigation could last up to 30 days.
Technically, investigators should be looking for clear evidence that a child is being abused, neglected, or is in danger in their present situation. Both abuse and neglect have rather broad definitions according to the Texas Family Code.
Generally, abuse can be any type of physical, mental, or sexual injury inflicted upon a child. Neglect often involves leaving a child alone or exposing a child to substantial risks without arranging for proper care. If an investigator has reason to believe that the child is in danger from abuse or neglect, they may elect to remove the child from their home with or without a court order. If a child is removed without the authority of a court order, the courts will typically convene the next day to review the situation.
What parents need to understand, but are not often made aware of, is that at any point in the investigation, they may have a lawyer present. In fact, the first thing that parents should consider when they find out a CPS investigation has been initiated is calling an experienced and skilled family lawyer. Consulting an attorney is not an admission of guilt. It is a way to protect your rights and the rights of your child.
How Can a Family Attorney Help?
Being involved in a CPS investigation is frightening for both you and your child. While mistakes can happen, an investigator will almost always tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to claims of abuse or neglect. A seasoned family attorney can help you prepare for interviews and the investigation process. In the event that your child has already been removed from your custody, an experienced family attorney can prepare you for hearings and join you in court. An attorney can also begin the process of gathering evidence and crafting a compelling case to help you get your child back.
During this entire process, you may feel lost and vulnerable. An attorney is a valuable resource that can help you comply with CPS requirements and ensure that you are being offered all the available services that can help you regain custody of your child. No matter the circumstances, we can provide you with a source of support and compassion that you may find lacking in the seemingly cold and methodical handling of your case by an overworked government agency.
At Adams Law Firm, we can’t stand to see families ripped apart. We make it our mission to help you work through your current situation and achieve the most positive result possible for your circumstances. You don’t have to go through this process alone and at the mercy of a CPS investigator. Contact an experienced family lawyer with Adams Law Firm as soon as possible, and let’s create a plan of action that protects you and your family members.
Did CPS Take Away Your Children?
Although Child Protective Services only wants to take away your children if they are in danger, mistakes do happen. For whatever reason, there can be misunderstandings, and your children could be taken away for no reason. You have the right to seek legal representation if you have found yourself in this type of situation. You also have the right to openly discuss your case with your CPS caseworker if you feel as though there has been an error. If that is unsuccessful, you also can talk to your caseworker’s supervisor. An administrative review can be held in order to look into the case again.
The good news is, whatever type of situation you are in, there are ways to fight CPS. In many cases, completely innocent families are torn apart because of a false accusation or lie. If you are in trouble, please do not waste any time getting in touch with a Katy family attorney from the Adams Law Firm. We are AV® rated by Martindale-Hubbell® and have been practicing law in Texas since 1977. We are familiar with local law enforcement and Child Protective Services and will do everything in our power to get your children back!
Contact a Family Lawyer Today!
If you have questions regarding Child Protective Services and whether our firm is the right choice for you, please do not hesitate to call our office. Not only are we experienced, but we have been voted as Houston’s Top Lawyers for Family law. You can call us at any time to schedule an appointment, or you can look through the rest of our website for more help. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of our team. Who you choose to defend you could make all the difference in the outcome of your case.