What Happens When Texas CPS Removes a Child? [2023]

Last Updated on September 11, 2023 by Turner Thornton

The Role of Child Protective Services in Texas

Child Protective Services (CPS),  a division of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), is a government agency tasked with ensuring the safety and welfare of children. When Texas CPS removes a child from their home, it is a drastic step that means they suspect abuse or neglect and that the child may be in danger.  This can be a frightening and overwhelming experience for the child and the parent, and it’s important to understand the process and your rights as a parent.

In this article, our Fort Worth family law attorneys explain CPS investigations, the CPS removal process, and what happens after removal.

CPS Investigations

Texas CPS Investigations

Child Protective Services (CPS) investigations in Texas typically begin when someone reports a concern about the welfare of a child. Here is an outline of the process:

Reporting

Any person who suspects that a child is being abused or neglected can report their concerns to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. This can be done via a phone call, online, or in some instances, in person. Texas law mandates that professionals such as teachers, doctors, and police officers, who have regular contact with children, must report suspected abuse or neglect within 48 hours. However, anyone can make a report if they suspect abuse or neglect. By law, the person who makes the report must remain anonymous. 

Screening

Once a report is received, CPS determines whether the reported information meets the legal definition of abuse or neglect and whether it falls within their jurisdiction. If the case is accepted, it is classified based on its severity and urgency.

Investigation

If the case is accepted for investigation, a CPS caseworker is assigned to the case. They are responsible for gathering more information about the reported abuse or neglect. This often includes visiting the child’s home, interviewing the child, the parents or caregivers, and other people who might have relevant information (like neighbors, teachers, or relatives). The caseworker may also review related documents, like medical records or school reports.

Assessment and Plan

If the investigation determines that the child was abused or neglected, the caseworker develops a plan to ensure the child’s safety. This could involve providing services to the family, or in more severe cases, removing the child from the home.

Legal Proceedings

If a child is removed from their home, a court hearing must be held within 14 days. At this hearing, a judge reviews the evidence and decides whether the child should remain in CPS custody or be returned home.

Every report of suspected child abuse or neglect is taken seriously by CPS in Texas. They work in the best interests of the child, aiming to ensure their safety and well-being while striving to keep families together whenever it is safe and possible to do so.

Types of CPS Removal in Texas

In Texas, Child Protective Services (CPS) can remove a child from a home if they believe the child’s immediate physical health or safety is endangered or if the child is a victim of neglect or abuse. There are two primary types of removals: without a court order and with a court order.

Without a Court Order (Emergency Removal)

CPS can take emergency temporary custody of a child without a court order if they believe the child is in immediate danger. They must have a reasonable belief that there is an immediate risk of physical or sexual abuse or that the child has been left alone in circumstances that pose an immediate threat to the child’s health or safety. In such cases, a court hearing is typically held within 14 days of the removal to determine the next steps.

With a Court Order

If the situation does not require immediate removal but CPS still has concerns about the child’s safety, they may file a suit requesting the court to order the removal of the child. A hearing will be held in which CPS presents evidence supporting the need for removal, and the parents will have an opportunity to contest the removal and present their own evidence. The judge will then decide whether to grant the order for removal based on the evidence presented.

After the removal, the child may be placed with a relative, in a foster home, or in a group home, depending on the circumstances and availability of placements. CPS aims to reunite families whenever it is safe and possible to do so and provides services and resources to parents to help them address the issues that led to the removal. If reunification isn’t possible, CPS will seek a permanent placement for the child, which could include adoption or awarding custody to a suitable relative or other adult.

What Should You Expect if Texas CPS Removes Your Child

When CPS takes your child, they will place the child with a relative, friend or in foster care. They will notify the parents in writing and provide any papers filed with the court. The agency will also provide you with information about why your child was removed and what steps you need to take to have them returned. This may include attending parenting classes, undergoing drug testing, or addressing any other issues that led to the removal of your child.

It’s important to note that Texas CPS must hold a court hearing within 14 days of removing your child to determine whether or not the removal was justified. You have the right to attend and to be represented by an attorney. At this hearing, CPS must prove that the removal was necessary and that there are no less restrictive alternatives to removing your child from your home.

Parental Rights in CPS Removal Cases

Parental Rights if Texas CPS Removes Your Child 

If CPS has taken your child, you have the right to:

  1. Be notified of the reason for the removal and the steps you need to take to have your child returned.

  2. Attend all court hearings related to your child’s removal and be represented by an attorney.

  3. Present evidence and testimony at all court hearings related to your child’s removal.

  4. Cross-examine witnesses who testify against you.

  5. Appeal any court orders related to your child’s removal.

Note: Texas CPS has a legal obligation to work with you to address any issues that led to the removal of your child. This may include providing you with support services such as counseling or substance abuse treatment. It’s also important to follow all court orders related to your child’s removal and to cooperate with CPS in their efforts to reunite you with your child.

Warning Before CPS Removal

In most cases, the parents will receive a warning from Texas CPS before they remove a child from the home. This warning may come in the form of a verbal or written notice, depending on the circumstances. The purpose of the warning is to give the parents the opportunity to address any issues that led to their involvement and to avoid the need for removal of your child from your home.

However, there are some situations where CPS may not provide a warning before removing a child. For example, if they believe the child is in immediate danger of harm, they may remove the child without prior notice. If CPS takes your child without a court order, they must hold a hearing within 14 days to determine whether or not the removal was justified. At this hearing, you have the right to be represented by an attorney and to present evidence and testimony on your behalf.

Regaining Custody After CPS Removal Regaining Custody if CPS Removes Your Child in Texas

If Texas CPS has removed your child, regaining custody will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. In general, the steps you need to take to regain custody will be outlined in a service plan developed by CPS. The service plan will typically require you to address the issues that led to the removal of your child, such as attending parenting classes, undergoing drug testing, or addressing any other issues identified by CPS.

To regain child custody, you will need to show that you have completed the requirements outlined in the service plan and that your home is a safe environment for your child. You will also need to attend all court hearings related to your child’s removal and be represented by an attorney.

If you are struggling to regain custody of your child, it’s important to contact a family attorney who handles CPS removal cases. An experienced attorney can help you understand the process, your rights, and what you need to do to have your child returned. They can also represent you at court hearings, cross-examine witnesses, and present evidence and testimony on your behalf.

What To Do If You’re Under CPS Investigation

Engaging an attorney is crucial in this situation. However, the specific attorney you should reach out to depends on whether you currently have an ongoing family matter.

In the event that there’s no existing family case such as divorce, custody, or a suit impacting the parent-child relationship, it would be advisable to contact an attorney who specializes in Child Protective Services (CPS) cases. For instance, in Fort Worth, you could reach out to Lyndsay Newell at 817-877-2872.

On the other hand, if you are dealing with an ongoing divorce or family case, you have the option of involving us in your family law case. We would then provide guidance on interacting with CPS while primarily focusing on your family law case. You can reach  Varghese Summersett Family Law Group at 817-900-3220. 

FAQs About CPS Removal in Texas

Texas CPS (Child Protective Services) is a state agency responsible for protecting children from abuse and neglect.

Texas CPS workers can legally remove a child from their home if they believe the child is in danger of abuse or neglect. They can also investigate allegations of abuse or neglect, provide services to families, and petition the court to terminate parental rights.

If Texas CPS is involved with your family, you have the right to be informed of the allegations against you, to attend all court hearings, to be represented by an attorney, to present evidence and testimony, and to cross-examine witnesses. You also have the right to work with CPS to address any issues that led to their involvement.

Texas CPS cannot remove a child from their home without a court order unless there is an immediate danger of harm to the child. CPS workers can’t enter your home without your consent or a court order unless there is an immediate danger of harm to the child.

You have the right to be notified of all court hearings related to your child’s removal, to be represented by an attorney, to present evidence and testimony, and to cross-examine witnesses. You also have the right to work with CPS to address any issues that led to their involvement.

You have the right to be informed of the allegations against you, to attend all court hearings, to be represented by an attorney, to present evidence and testimony, and to cross-examine witnesses. You also have the right to work with Texas CPS to address any issues that led to their involvement.

As a parent, you have the right to work with CPS to address any issues that led to their involvement, to be informed of the allegations against you, to attend all court hearings, to be represented by an attorney, to present evidence and testimony, and to cross-examine witnesses.

CPS cannot remove a child from their home without a court order unless there is an immediate danger of harm to the child. They cannot enter your home without your consent or a court order unless there is an immediate danger of harm to the child.

A family law attorney can help you understand the process, your rights, and what you need to do to have your child returned. They can also represent you at court hearings, cross-examine witnesses, and present evidence and testimony on your behalf.

Turner Thornton
Turner Thornton
Turner Thornton is a well-known family law attorney in Fort Worth who leads the Varghese Summersett Family Law Group. Turner has successfully guided hundreds of individuals and families through the most trying period of their lives as a skilled negotiator and savvy litigator. Turner Thornton concentrates his practice on family law, including divorce, child custody, contempt, and modification cases. He is experienced in handling estates with significant and unique assets that can be difficult to value. He finds amicable resolutions where possible to conserve his client's resources, but knows how to take the gloves off if the situation calls for it. He has had remarkable results in and outside of the courtroom based largely on his ability and desire to understand his clients' needs and guide them on the pathway to what success looks like for them.

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