What Are My Rights with CPS (Child Protective Services) During an Investigation?

What are my rights with CPS?
If you are being investigated by Child Protective Services (CPS), knowing your rights and what CPS can and cannot do during the investigation is critical. Most parents do not know what to expect during CPS investigations, and many do not know what CPS caseworkers can and cannot do when conducting a home inspection.

Previously, we talked about what CPS looks for when inspecting a home.

Obviously, the worst thing that can happen as a result of a CPS investigation is a caseworker taking your children away. To prevent this from happening, it is best to contact a Copperas Cove CPS lawyer as soon as you become aware of an ongoing CPS investigation or a possible home inspection visit.

What My Rights With CPS?

It is important that a parent understands their rights during CPS home visits. These are the most fundamental rights that you can exercise during a CPS investigation:

  • Fifth Amendment right. Anything you say to a CPS caseworker can be used against you or could even become grounds to take your kids away from you. If you are being investigated by CPS, you can invoke your right to remain silent when a caseworker starts asking you questions. You can exercise your Fifth Amendment right by politely telling the investigator that you do not want to answer their questions.

  • Fourth Amendment right. If a CPS caseworker arrives at your home and asks to come inside, you have a right to refuse. The caseworker is just doing their job, but once they get inside, they will start inspecting your home for unsafe conditions and collecting evidence against you. Fortunately, you can invoke your Fourth Amendment right to prevent the investigator from getting inside your home.

The only situation in which CPS caseworkers do not need your consent to enter your property is when they have a search warrant, there is an emergency, or the child is in immediate danger.

Note: If you refuse to let the caseworker in, bring your children to the door so that the caseworker can see them for a quick visual check.

What Can Child Protective Services (CPS) Legally Do During an Investigation?

When a CPS investigator shows up for a home visit, and you let them in, or they lawfully enter your property without your consent (when there is a search warrant, court order, or any exigent circumstances), they can legally do the following things:

1. They can investigate false claims

Do not be surprised if a CPS caseworker comes to your house after a false or completely preposterous claim has been made. Child Protective Services must investigate and take all claims and anonymous tips seriously. That’s their job.

However, you have a right to know the claims that triggered the investigation.

2. They can make an unannounced visit

CPS investigators are not required to give you notice before their home visit. In most cases, social workers show up unannounced when you least expect it.

While you may know that a CPS investigation is underway, you may not know exactly when a caseworker will arrive for a home inspection. If you are aware of an ongoing investigation, it is in your best interests to contact Copperas Cove CPS lawyer to protect your rights and prevent social workers from taking your children.

3. They can talk to your children, even if you do not want them to

CPS social workers do not need your permission to talk to your children alone, especially if you are being accused of child abuse or sexual assault. Many parents mistakenly believe that CPS caseworkers have no right to speak with their kids without their permission.

However, CPS’s rationale for talking to children in private is that they want to make sure that the kids can speak freely without fearing the consequences. Abusive parents often force their children to lie to caseworkers, which is why CPS may want to talk to children alone.

4. They can ask invasive and uncomfortable questions

During a CPS investigation, you might notice that some of the caseworker’s questions are a little too uncomfortable, invasive, and some might not even be relevant to the allegations made against you.

However, CPS social workers can lawfully ask any questions as long as they are not discriminatory. Note: If English is not your native language, you can exercise your right to have an interpreter.

Before answering a caseworker’s questions, keep in mind that your answers will not be confidential. Anything you say during an investigation will be used against you. That is why it is critical to consult with your attorney before answering CPS questions.

5. They can take your children away from you

This one is the most upsetting because CPS caseworkers can lawfully remove your children from your home if they determine your house, you, or a member of your household to be an immediate threat to your kids.

However, CPS investigators take children away from a parent only as a last resort. If you do not want CPS to terminate your parental rights, it is essential to speak with a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible.

Contact Our Copperas Cove CPS Lawyers for a Free Consultation

Even though now you know what CPS can and cannot do, CPS investigations should still be taken very seriously. While undergoing a CPS investigation may never have been in your plans, it is vital to have a lawyer on your side to help you fight this battle.

Our Copperas Cove CPS lawyers can protect your rights and help you make a good impression during a CPS investigation. Discuss the following things when speaking with an attorney:

  • How to remedy housing conditions that may be deemed unsafe by CPS?

  • Should I answer the caseworker’s questions during an investigation?

  • Should I let CPS in when they arrive?

  • What are my rights during a CPS investigation?

Our skilled attorneys at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard are prepared to answer these and many other questions that you may have if a CPS investigation is ongoing or you believe that a caseworker may come to your house in the nearest future.


Receive a free, no-obligation consultation by calling 254-501-4040.

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