Child Protective Services – Their Role in Family Law Cases

In certain family law cases, circumstances will exist such as abuse or neglect of a child that will warrant outside involvement in determining where a child will end up living and who will be the child’s caretaker. Child Protective Services, or CPS, can become involved in cases such as these when the safety and welfare of a child are being threatened by the actions of a parent or relative of the child. CPS will take action when they find that such harm exists to the child.

The Texas Family Code allows for CPS to investigate and act on allegations of abuse or neglect towards a child by their parents or caretaker. CPS can conduct an initial investigation and make a finding of reason to believe that there has been abuse or neglect of a child by a certain party. In addition, CPS can perform an emergency removal of a child from a parent’s care if they find that exigent circumstances exist such that the remaining of the child in the care of an abusive or neglectful parent would cause significant harm to the child.

Once the child is removed from the care of a parent who is alleged to have been abusive or neglectful, the child will likely be placed with a competent relative. If a competent relative is not available, then the child will possibly be placed with a foster family that will care for the child during the pendency of the case.

After this occurs, CPS will draft up what is called a safety plan for the parents to follow for possible reunification of the child with them at the end of the case. The safety plan will order various things to be done including parenting classes, counseling, drug testing, AA/NA meetings, obtaining employment and housing, and payment of child support and medical support. The goal for the parents is to follow the safety plan and successfully complete it so that they can be reunified with their children. Not following the plan is grounds for termination of a parent’s rights upon having a final trial in the matter.

If you or a loved one has been contacted by CPS or has had your child removed from your household by them, it is vital that you contact an attorney to help with obtaining placement of your child back in your care. While it will not be an overnight process to have the child reunified with you, following the proper steps laid out by CPS and required by the court can result in you ultimately having your child be placed in a safe and stable environment in the future.

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