Foster Parents and Sibling Placement

There seems to be a new trend within CPS. CPS is now breaking up foster homes that “they created”. Many foster parents are now licensed “foster to adopt”. This means that they are looking to adopt (should the child become eligible) the child that is placed with them within the foster system. When a baby is born, or an infant is placed in the system, CPS has a duty to determine is that child has siblings. This in important because it is CPS policy and the intent of the legislature that children be placed with siblings (full or half) if at all possible. But the search for the siblings is just not happening as it should. So these babies are being placed in the “foster to adopt” homes and raising the hopes of the foster parents. CPS tells them to take this baby, love him, protect him, care for him, etc. Ultimately, they bond. It’s impossible to stop. Then CPS seven, eight, nine months later finally finds the time to locate siblings. If they choose to follow their own policy, they have no choice but to remove the child from, usually, what is the only home that child has ever known and place with the sibling(s). Now we have another broken home.

If the foster parents are able…and with the help of new case law…they can file suit for custody of the baby based on “substantial past contact”. Even though the Texas Family Code states that foster parents do not have standing to sue until the child has been placed with them for one year, the Texas Courts have stated that they have another avenue. If the baby has been placed with them for a substantail amount of time, standing is created. Now, 7-9 months may not seem like a long time. But if you look at the age of the child, an infant for example, that was placed in the foster home at 3 days old, then 7-9 months in 100% of that child’s life.

If CPS were to simply to the job they are intended to do, this situation would not be created. Simply put, they are creating mess after mess.

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Post Termination Suits

If your parental rights have been terminated, or those parental rights of your adult children, grandparents, adult siblings, and aunts and uncles now have an avenue to fight CPS for custody of the child. The above relatives have 90 days after the parental rights have been terminated to file a suit affecting the parent-child relationship to fight for custody of the child.

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CPS policy and the Texas Administrative Code states that if a child cannot be returned to the parents then CPS must place the child with family. CPS violates this over and over again. CPS is either removing children from grandparents or refusing to place children with their grandparents for the most insane reasons, i.e., grandparents live by a lake, grandmother smokes, the child has bonded with the foster parents. I’m infuriated. What about family history and maintaining family ties? What about the child being given the opportunity to know his heritage? Don’t let CPS get away with this. Fight back and demand that CPS follow the law.

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Defending CPS cases

There is a general plan when I deal with a CPS case (or any attorney for that matter).  But it is important to remember that each CPS case is different…with very different facts.  So understand that each case will be treated differently.  No one case is alike, therefore cases can’t be defended exactly alike.  And one more thing:  remember that we are dealing with a governmental agency.  This means that resolving your case can take awhile.  The government is never in a hurry.

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False Allegations of Child Molesting

Often times when a couple is going through a divorce, Mom will make an allegation that Dad has molested or inappropriately touched one or all of the children. Many women feel that this is a quick way to “get rid” of Dad. I’m begging every mother, aunt, or grandmother, please don’t do this. An allegation such as this will completely ruin a life. Not just Dad’s life, but the child’s life as well. Dad will most likely be criminally charged. In defending his criminal charge, the child will be put through endless interviews and evaluations not understanding why. And if Dad is able to prove that Mom has coached the child, she will ultimately lose her parental rights. This is simply not something to play around with. Do not put your family or your children through this unless you are sure that something inappropriate has happened.

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you can now follow me on twitter

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Attorney Ad Litem

One of the most frustrating things about AAL’s is when you have to deal with one that either doesn’t have children or is simply oblivious to the reality of raising a sick or chronically ill child. The questions that are often asked are just stupid. I so often want to say — go sit in a hospital and observe. Go talk to parents who have to deal with sick children on a daily basis. How does a parent answer this question? “how does it feel to hold your child down so a medical procedure can be forced on him? My goodness….other than just being a cruel question it’s unquestionably unfair. No parent wants to be put in that position. And when you follow doctor’s orders and do what you believe to be in your child’s best interest, based on the advice of a doctor, to be accused of medical torture is absurd. It is shameful what some AAL’s put parents through — all in the name of the best interest of the child.

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Can I place my child with other family members

When children have been abused or neglected, DFPS may remove them from their homes to ensure their immediate safety. The court system is required to consider a temporary placement with a relative and asks the parents to provide DFPS with contact information for relatives who may be able to at least temporarily care for the child.

When placing children, the court considers their needs the most important consideration. All the parties involved in the decision making process may identify a kinship placement as the most appropriate as a result of a Family Group Decision Making (FGDM) conference. The placement may be court ordered, usually after DFPS completes a home assessment. The agency will try to take into account the parents’ desires about the care provided to their child whenever possible. If placement with a relative is not available or appropriate, the child may be placed in foster care.

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Do I need a lawyer

You have the right to consult with a lawyer at any point in the investigation at your own expense. If CPS files a lawsuit requesting Temporary Managing Conservatorhip and you don’t agree, the Court will determine if you are financially able to hire your own attorney, or whether to appoint one to represent you. CPS staff are prohibited by law from giving legal advice.

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CPS and state law

State law requires anybody who believes that a child has been abused or neglected to make a report to Texas Department of Family & Protective Services (CPS) or to a law enforcement agency.  The law requires CPS to investigate reports of child abuse or neglect for the primary purpose of protecting children.

When investigating a report, a CPS investigator usually:

  • talks to and visually examines the child reported to have been abused or neglected. The talk with the child must be audio taped or videotaped. The interview may be conducted at any reasonable time and place, including at school. The caseworker may transport the child for purposes relating to the interview or examination and must notify the child’s parent of the transportation.
  • makes a reasonable effort to notify you of any interviews and the nature of the allegations within 24 hours after an interview has taken place.
  • discusses the report with you to gain an explanation about the harm or risk of abuse or neglect to the child. You can ask to see the caseworker’s DFPS identification card. The caseworker will tell you how he or she can be contacted during the investigation. It is illegal for the caseworker to tell you who made the report.
  • obtains criminal history information about people alleged to have abused or neglected your child. As necessary, the caseworker may also:
  • interview and visually examine all children in the home;
  • interview any other person alleged to have abused or neglected your child;
  • interview anyone with information about the situation, including those who can verify explanations of the harm to your child;
  • ask for access to mental health records on your child, yourself, or people alleged to have abused or neglected your child;
  • ask for a medical, psychological, or psychiatric examination of your child if it is necessary to establish whether abuse or neglect has occurred or if risk of abuse or neglect exists; and
  • visit the child’s home.
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