The State of Texas has an interest in the welfare of children living in the state. When there are accusations that a child is being abused or neglected, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (the Department) may get involved to protect endangered children. If a Department investigation finds that a child is at risk of abuse or neglect, custody of the child may be taken from the parent or parents and placed in the temporary custody of a relative or other responsible adult.
When child welfare proceedings are initiated by the Department, parents are given a safety plan outlining what needs to be done to safely return the child to their custody. If a parent substantially and repeatedly fails to uphold their end of a Department service plan, the Department may seek to terminate that parent’s parental rights, paving the way for the child to be adopted by another family that can safely care for them. The Texas Supreme Court recently addressed a Texas Court of Appeals decision that had ordered a new trial after a man’s parental rights had been terminated.
The parent in the recently decided case was brought to the attention of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services when an anonymous source reported that he and the child’s mother had hurt the child. An agent from the Department visited the parents’ home and noted that the child was bruised. Later, test results showed that the child had a measurable amount of cocaine and methamphetamine in her system. As a result of this, an emergency custody order was made and the child was placed in the care of a relative. In order to regain custody of the child, the father was placed on a safety plan that required him to submit to drug and alcohol testing and seek psychological care. Because the father failed to meet the requirements of the service plan, the Department initiated termination proceedings.
The trial court ultimately terminated the father’s rights for endangering the child and failing to abide by the terms of the safety plan. The father appealed the ruling, where the appellate court agreed that the father’s rights should be terminated for failing to follow the safety plan, but reversed the rulings concerning endangerment and remanded the case for a new trial. The Department appealed the Court of Appeals decision to the Texas Supreme Court, arguing that a new trial was not necessary because the father’s parental rights were terminated successfully for failing to follow the safety plan. The Supreme Court agreed that a new trial would not be necessary, as the father’s rights had been terminated. As a result of the high court ruling, the father will not have an opportunity to regain custody of his child.
Are You Facing an Investigation by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services?
If you or a loved one is facing an investigation by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, it is important to consult with legal counsel early in the process. Taking the proper action early on can prevent the Department from permanently taking custody of your children away. The qualified Texas parental rights attorneys at Guest and Gray have helped hundreds of clients with family law issues and have experience contesting child welfare cases. Without help, you can be confident that the state won’t wrongfully interfere with your parental rights. Our attorneys represent clients throughout Texas on a variety of family law issues, including child welfare proceedings. Contact our offices at 972-564-4644 and schedule a free consultation today.