If Child Protective Services (CPS) removed your child from your home, you might wonder what happens next. In most cases, parents whose children have been taken away by CPS must attend an adversary hearing within two weeks of the removal.
If you do not know what an adversary hearing is and what to expect at the hearing, speak with a Harker Heights CPS lawyer to discuss your case.
What is an Adversary Hearing?
The Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), which oversees and manages CPS, is required to set up an adversary hearing no more than 14 days after removing a child from the parents’ home.
The hearing is also referred to as the Chapter 262 hearing.
What Happens at the Adversary Hearing?
At the hearing, which the removed child’s parents and CPS caseworker will attend, CPS must prove that it had a reasonable basis to take the parents’ child away without a court order.
The purpose of the hearing is also to give CPS an opportunity to ask a judge to let the agency keep the child in their protective custody until the parents can demonstrate their ability to take good care of the child and prove that they no longer pose a danger to the child.
If you believe that you do not have enough time to prepare for the adversary hearing, you can ask the judge for an extension to prepare with the help of an attorney.
Note: You cannot get your children back until after you have attended the hearing. In fact, if your child has been removed from you, you might not be able to bring your children back immediately after the hearing. You will have to follow specific steps to return your kids.
You Need a CPS Lawyer for the Adversary Hearing
During the adversary hearing, Child Protective Services may use witness statements in order to demonstrate evidence that it had legal grounds to remove your children from you.
You have a right to have your witnesses testify in your favor, too. For this reason, it is important to seek the legal counsel of an experienced attorney to help you obtain witness statements and protect your rights during the hearing.
You also need a CPS lawyer to present your arguments in a convincing manner and help you get your children back as soon as possible after the adversary hearing.
What Are Your Rights During a CPS Case?
You have several fundamental rights when attending an adversary hearing during your CPS case. Your first right is the right to be represented by an attorney. It is highly advisable to exercise your right and hire a skilled lawyer to represent your best interests and achieve the best possible outcome at the hearing.
It is also critical to understand your rights when being investigated by CPS. You have a right to refuse to:
Speak with the CPS investigator (you can exercise your right to remain silent);
Let the CPS investigator enter your home; and
Take a drug test.
It is not uncommon for Child Protective Services employees to use scare tactics and infringe upon parents’ rights during investigations. Many parents end up having their children removed because they are not aware of their constitutional rights.
If CPS started investigating you after receiving a report of child abuse or neglect or you were ordered to attend an adversary hearing, it is imperative that you talk to an attorney right away.
What Does CPS Need to Prove at the Adversary Hearing?
What many parents do not realize is that CPS has a high burden of proof when presenting cases in front of a judge during adversary hearings. CPS might be trying to convince the judge to let the agency keep the child in its protective custody because the child would be at risk of harm if they returned home.
The parents, on the other hand, must convince the judge that CPS did not have legal grounds to remove the kids in the first place and that the children should be returned to their home.
A judge will agree to return children to parents’ home unless any of the following is true:
The parents’ actions or omission endangered the child’s safety or health;
Letting the parents bring their children back would create a risk of harm to the child;
The circumstances required urgent removal of the child from the parents’ home;
CPS made reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need for removal; and
The agency made reasonable efforts to return the child home but could not do so due to a risk of continuing harm.
As you can see, it would not be enough for Child Protective Services to demonstrate evidence that children were in danger but also that it made reasonable efforts to prevent the child removal.
What to Do if CPS Took Your Children?
If CPS removed your children from home, you might wonder if you still have a chance to see your kids despite the removal. If you have not attended any court hearings after the removal yet, CPS is legally required to give you a chance to visit your child.
The visit cannot last longer than an hour and must be held at a DFPS facility. As you make progress toward reunification, your visitation with your children increases to the point when you can bring your kids back.
If Child Protective Services took your children, the first thing you should do is call an attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can help you convince the judge to return your children home by presenting compelling evidence and arguments at the adversary hearing.
Consult with a Harker Heights Child Protective Services Lawyer
Do not hesitate to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our experienced and results-driven lawyers at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard to protect your rights at the adversary hearing.
Schedule a case review with our attorneys to discuss what you can do to bring your children back as soon as possible. Call 254-501-4040 to get a case review.