Christina Perrone #1 – Content – Family Law Attorney
Everyone has a legal duty to let Child Protective Services (CPS) know if they believe a child is being abused or neglected in the state of Texas. CPS is part of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and is responsible for investigating allegations of abuse or neglect. Every report of abuse or neglect is investigated and ranked with the child’s safety a priority. If CPS believes the child is in immediate danger, the agency can file a lawsuit to remove the child.
A CPS investigation is a civil court matter regarding the welfare of a child and their family. It is a good idea to have a family law attorney when CPS becomes involved with your family. The lawyer can inform you about what is happening with the investigation, answer your questions, and advise you about what you can do to help yourself and your child during the investigation process.
Do I Have To Pay For A Lawyer To Help Me In A CPS Investigation?
You are not entitled to have a court -appointed lawyer for a CPS investigation which means you will be paying for the lawyer’s services at that point.
You may qualify for a court-appointed lawyer later on in the process if you meet the following three requirements for a court-appointed lawyer.
- You must be indigent which means you have a low income and cannot afford a lawyer.
- CPS filed a lawsuit asking to be appointed as temporary managing conservator of your child or CPS is requesting your parental rights be terminated.
- You must respond “in opposition” to the lawsuit by going to court to demonstrate that you intend to fight the CPS petition.
What Should I Expect During The Investigation Process?
The CPS investigator assigned to your case will be interviewing people who live with you and your child. They will talk to anyone who witnessed abuse or neglect of the child including a police officer, relatives, or a neighbor. They can speak to teachers at the child’s school and other people who may know you and your family who cannot verify any abuse or neglect.
There are many aspects of a CPS investigation besides the initial interviews with you and your child, family members, teachers, and others. The CPS investigator may request physical, sexual abuse, or medical exams. They may show up at your home at any time of day to inspect your home. They must ask for permission to come into your home; however, you have the right to not allow them into your home.
The investigator may take pictures of the inside of your home and of any injuries on your child’s body. Records are requested during the investigation including a criminal background check, any CPS history, school records, and medical and mental health records.
Is There Anything I Should Do During A CPS Investigation?
While the investigation is being conducted you have the right to speak to a family attorney for Child Protective Services at any time. You can provide names and contact information to people who know you who can verify that you are not capable of being abusive or neglectful.
If your child was injured, you should give the investigator the names of anyone who witnessed the event that caused the injury who can confirm you version of the events. If the child has special medical issues, you may provide the name of the treating physician who can answer any concerns the investigator may have.
What Happens When The Investigation Is Completed?
When an investigation for abuse or neglect of a child is completed, CPS issues their findings regarding the abuse or neglect case. There are four possible outcomes of the investigation.
Reason To Believe.
The Reason to Believe ruling is used when the investigator believes the evidence and investigation supports the claim that neglect or abuse did occur.
Unable To Determine.
The Unable to Determine finding means that there is reason to believe that the reported abuse or neglect did occur, but there is not enough evidence to support the claim.
A Ruled-Out determination is used when the investigator believes the reported abuse or neglect did not occur or the individual who allegedly committed the abuse or neglect is less than nine years of age.
Unable To Complete.
The Unable to Complete ruling is used when the CPS investigator was unable to complete the investigation.
Having an experienced CPS litigation lawyer representing you in a CPS investigation is of the greatest importance to ensure a good outcome for you and your child. The lawyer can assist you if you do not agree with the outcome of the investigation by requesting a review within 45 days of receiving the letter informing you of the results of the CPS investigation.