We Are Parental Rights Attorneys
Child Protective Services (CPS) was established by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. The agency was once responsible to promote the welfare of children by helping families establish more stable homes. Over the years, however, this purpose has eroded. Today, the agency is better known for taking children away from parents and making it almost impossible to get those children back. There are online forums telling parents to keep their cupboards stocked and their houses clean because there are few things scarier than being targeted by CPS. When the state gets involved in your family you will need the help of a qualified Texas CPS Lawyer.
A compassionate child protective services lawyer from The Carlson Law Firm is your fighting chance to get your children back. A Texas Family Lawyer for CPS Investigations is ready to defend you and your children against unjust accusations and the severe actions of CPS. Our firm has more than 40 years of experience representing families in their time of need. We have a deep understanding of the law and will use it to defend your family. Contact a Carlson Law Firm Texas CPS Lawyer to discuss your case.
The Carlson Law Firm Can Help With CPS Investigations
If someone falsely accuses you of abusing or neglecting your children, your best course of action is to consult with a Texas CPS lawyer from The Carlson Law Firm. Parents will need to prepare for an emergency hearing within three days, or prepare for an adversary hearing within 14 days.
At The Carlson Law Firm, you will find a team of Texas Family Lawyer for CPS Investigations with substantial experience in protecting parental rights — and the rights of children — against unwarranted intrusion by the state.
What is Child Protective Services
Child Protective Services is the agency that provided protection for children who are at risk of experiencing abuse or neglect. The initial goal of the agency was to strengthen families and promote safe, nurturing homes for children. The agency does this in the following ways:
If CPS agents are not certain that your children are immediately safe or believe there is a likelihood your children could be abused or neglected at any time in the foreseeable future — whether at the hands of parents or another party — CPS can remove children from the home. Although not every CPS investigation ends up in a court case, in our experience, it is vitally important for parents to consult an aggressive, skilled and knowledgeable attorney the moment they discover they are under investigation by CPS.
Contact a qualified Texas CPS lawyer from The Carlson Law Firm to discuss your case. A Texas Family Lawyer for CPS Investigations can help you decide what the best course of action is for your unique situation.
How is Child Abuse or Neglect Reported?
Suspected child abuse or neglect can be reported to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services online or over the phone. The online reporting system should not be used if the situation is urgent. Further, if a child is in immediate danger, the website recommends contacting local law enforcement. CPS is legally obligated to investigate every report, even false ones.
There are some professions that are under a legal duty to report any and all possible cases. For example, if a doctor notices an injury to a child’s sexual organs, or if a teacher overhears a child talking about a sexual encounter with a parent or guardian, both of these individuals would need to report what they heard or saw to CPS. In many cases, these people misunderstand the things being said by children and false allegations are made. Nationally, almost 59 percent of abuse and neglect reports are made by professionals who have contact with the child in question as part of their job.
According to a report from the Texas Association for the Protection of Children, almost 55 percent of suspected abuse cases reported to the CPS statewide intake system do not meet the requirements for CPS to take action.
What Happens After I’ve Been Reported to Child Protective Services?
If someone has reported your family to child protective services, CPS must determine if an investigation is needed. Callers do not have to be certain or provide proof of abuse or neglect. The only thing required to make a report is reasonable suspicion. Before the agency registers a report and starts an investigation, it must consider the following:
- Identity and Location: CPS needs to be able to identify and locate the child and family in the report.
- Age of the Child: Depending on state law, CPS typically only investigates cases of children under 18 years old.
- Jurisdiction: CPS in Texas doesn’t have jurisdiction over cases of abuse that occurred in another state.
- Person Legally Responsible: CPS needs to know if the abuser is the parent, legal guardian, foster care provider or another adult responsible for the child’s wellbeing. If this is not the case, then CPS doesn’t have jurisdiction.
- Allegations: CPS will need to determine if the allegations constitute abuse. If the allegations are not deemed abuse then CPS will likely not investigate.
If you are under investigation by CPS you have the right to consult a lawyer. Contact The Carlson Law Firm to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a Texas CPS lawyer.
What Does a CPS Investigation Involve?
Once CPS determines that abuse or neglect is present, a report will be registered and CPS will begin an investigation. In addition to its own investigation, CPS will likely make a report to the police. A CPS investigation will usually occur with 24 hours of a report. During the investigation stage, CPS will take the following steps:
- Interviews: The caseworker will either call or visit your home to interview parents, the alleged perpetrator, the child, or other members of the family or household. A caseworker may also want to interview the child alone. However, they are typically required to record the interview.
- Examinations: A casework may request medical or psychological examination of your child to determine if abuse or neglect.
- Explanations: A caseworker will explain the allegations against you or another family within a reasonable time—typically 24 hours after all the interviews. At this point, the caseworker will allow you to explain the circumstances of any injuries or safety concerns.
No matter what stage your CPS investigation is in, contact a knowledgeable Texas CPS lawyer from The Carlson Law Firm.
What Happens After a CPS Investigation?
After the investigation, a caseworker will determine whether or not abuse or neglect occurred. If CPS determines there is no abuse or neglect, the case will close and the records will be sealed.
However, if the caseworker determines that there is evidence of abuse or a risk of abuse CPS will:
- Create a Service Plan: In most cases, CPS will try to work with the family to protect the interests of the child. CPS may offer a family one of its many services. These services include psychiatric counseling, group therapy, parent support services and more.
- Remove the Child: If CPS determines that there are no reasonable efforts that can keep your child safe in your home. In order to do so, CPS will get a court order and take custody of your child. In some cases, CPS may determine that your child is in immediate danger. If the agency reaches this level of determination then CPS can remove your child from your home before getting a court order.
If you are under investigation by CPS you have the right to consult a lawyer. An experienced Texas CPS lawyer from The Carlson Law Firm can help.
Will CPS Remove My Children?
CPS should only remove children from their homes when it is absolutely necessary. This is the best way to protect them from abuse or neglect. As noted above, children can be removed from their homes in two ways, 1) with a court order prior to removal or 2) with a court order obtained following an emergency removal. CPS can immediately take children their families without a court order only in the following situations:
If CPS determines that an immediate removal is necessary, the court must review the removal the next business day. In fact, if the emergency hearing cannot take place within three days following the removal, then CPS must return the child to his or her parents or guardians.
If CPS removed your children from the home, contact a Texas Family Lawyer for CPS Investigations. A Texas CPS lawyer from The Carlson Law Firm can help you begin the process to get your children home—where they belong.
What Do I Do If CPS Removes My Child?
No parent plans on a Child Protective Services investigation for possible abuse or neglect. However, CPS does make mistakes in hopes of erring on the side of caution. This can be a tormenting time for any parent. You may not know where your children are and your first reaction may be to panic, but before you do anything irrational keep the following in mind:
This is the most important step. Panicking will not get your children home. Your children are relying on you to keep a level head. It is important to keep in mind that you are going up against the State of Texas. As an arm of The Texas Department of Family Protective Services, CPS will have the upper hand in a courtroom. By keeping a level head, you can come up with a clear plan to get your children back.
Know your rights
Understanding your rights will help you get and stay one step ahead of CPS. The first thing you need to understand is that you have a right to an attorney. Hiring an attorney is not an admission of guilt. On the contrary, hiring an attorney will protect your rights and the rights of your children. CPS staff such as caseworkers and the agency’s attorneys understand the law and will use that knowledge to their benefit. Don’t walk into the courtroom believing that tears and declarations of missing your children will sway the judge. In many cases, you have the right to a court-appointed attorney.
Next, you need to understand that you retain certain rights during a CPS interrogation. It is easy to believe that when you are questioned by a person in an authority position that you have to do everything they say. That is often not the case. You have the right to know why there is an investigation on you and your family. In fact, it should be one of the first questions you ask an investigator.
You also have the right to refuse a CPS worker entry into your home. However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t go to court to ask for a court order. If the worker obtains a court order, then you must allow them access to your home. CPS must give you notice if they intend to get a court order and you have a right to attend that hearing. In an emergency, CPS can return to your home with a police escort and without a court order.
What Happens At The Adversary Hearing?
CPS has the burden of proof at the Adversary Hearing. The purpose of this hearing is not to make parents prove why they should get their children back. It is actually for CPS to prove that there is a continuing risk of danger to the children if they go home with you.
According to the Texas Family Code, at the conclusion of the Adversary Hearing, the judge shall return the children to the parent, managing conservator, possessory conservator, guardian, caretaker or custodian unless the judge finds that:
- There was a danger to the physical health or safety of the child. This may include a danger that the child would be a victim of human trafficking.
- An urgent need for protection required the immediate removal of the child and reasonable efforts, consistent with the circumstances and providing for the safety of the child were made to eliminate or prevent the child’s removal.
- Reasonable efforts were made to enable the child to return home, however, there is still a substantial risk of continuing danger if the child goes home.
How to Prepare for the Adversary Hearing
Document every interaction with CPS for your attorney. It will be easy to forget exactly what was said several weeks before. Therefore documenting by keeping a detailed journal and recording conversation any time CPS wants to speak with you will protect you from false allegations.
There’s a Carlson Law Firm Near You
With 12 locations throughout Texas, there’s a Carlson Law Firm near you. We have law offices located in Killeen, Temple, Waco, Round Rock, Austin, San Antonio, Laredo, Bryan, Lubbock, and Corpus Christi.