The Texas Legislature has amended Texas Law in a way that significantly curtails overreaching by CPS (legally known as Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (“DFPS”) and expands the rights of parents and children who are the subject of CPS Investigations. A brief summary of some of these changes include the following:
- CPS may not reopen an investigation or change the department’s finding after 60 days and must show good cause to re-open an investigation with 60 days of closure;
- In an investigation by CPS, a parent has the following rights and CPS must give parents a verbal notification (and document in Department records that they have done so) of the parent’s right to:
- Not speak to CPS without a lawyer;
- Having court appointed counsel if they are indigent;
- Record any interviews with CPS;
- Refuse to allow CPS into their home or interview the children without a court order;
- Refuse to allow CPS to interview their child in their home without legal counsel present;
- Withhold consent to the release of any medical or mental health records;
- Withold consent to any medical or psychological examination of their child;
- Refuse to submit to drug test; and
- Consult with an attorney before agreeing to Parental Child Safety Placement with CPS.
- Statements made to CPS may not be admissible if CPS fails to comply with these legal requirements;
- Limits now exist on Initial hearings for custody in favor of CPS when parents are not notified in advance or given an opportunity to appear and contest the requests of CPS; and
- Severely limits the length of time that DFPS can keep Parental Child Safety Placements in effect.
(a) A parental child safety placement agreement must include the following language: “THIS AGREEMENT IS ENTIRELY VOLUNTARY. THE AGREEMENT MAY NOT LAST LONGER THAN 30 DAYS. THE AGREEMENT MAY BE RENEWED NOT MORE THAN TWO TIMES AND FOR NOT MORE THAN 30 DAYS EACH TIME. A CHILD MAY NOT BE PLACED OUTSIDE OF THE CHILD’S HOME FOR LONGER THAN A TOTAL OF 90 CALENDAR DAYS WITHOUT A SIGNED AGREEMENT BY THE CHILD’S PARENT AND THE PARENT’S ATTORNEY OR A COURT ORDER RENDERED UNDER CHAPTER 262.”
If you or a family member or a friend becomes the subject of a CPS investigation, it is very important that the parents know their rights. They should consult an attorney who is experienced in handling CPS cases. At Connolly & Shireman we have three lawyers who are very experienced in handling these types of cases.