Can Child Protective Services (CPS) Terminate Your Parental Rights?

Father and daughter hugging

Termination of parental rights is a nightmare for any parent and one of the worst outcomes of a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation. If your parental rights are terminated, you will no longer be able to see and even talk to your child.

Termination of parental rights occurs when a court issues an order that ends the legal parent-child relationship. Once your parental rights are taken away, your child will be placed for adoption.

If you believe that CPS could terminate your parental rights, do not hesitate to contact a Copperas Cove Child Protective Services lawyer to discuss your particular case. A knowledgeable attorney will protect your rights and ensure that CPS does not take your children from you.

Can CPS Terminate Your Parental Rights?

Technically, Child Protective Services does not have the legal power to terminate someone’s parental rights. However, CPS can ask the court to terminate a parent’s parental rights if its investigation shows that:

  1. The parent has subjected their child to circumstances that pose a significant risk of harm; and

  2. The parent is not willing to take the necessary steps to prevent harm and protect the child’s safety in order to continue caring for the child.

In other words, if CPS determines that your child will be at significant risk of harm if he or she remains with you and you demonstrate your unwillingness or inability to stop mistreatment or abuse and prevent it from recurring, the agency will ask the court to remove your child from your care and have your parental rights terminated.

Note: Texas courts prefer to give parents who subjected their children to harm a reasonable opportunity to become better parents as opposed to terminating parental rights. However, in the absence of any reasonable alternatives, courts will terminate parental rights when doing so is in the child’s best interests. (What Happens During a Child Protective Services (CPS) Investigation in Texas?)

What are Voluntary and Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights?

Texas law recognizes two types of termination of parental rights:

  1. Voluntary

  2. Involuntary

In certain cases, a parent can voluntarily terminate their parental rights. It means exactly what it sounds like. You can agree with the decision to have your parental rights terminated by voluntarily relinquishing your parental rights. However, before accepting the voluntary termination of parental rights, a judge will review your particular situation and determine what decision would be in the child’s best interests.

Involuntary termination of parental rights is when you do not agree with the court’s decision to have your rights terminated. However, the judge can approve the CPS’s request to terminate your parental rights even if you object to the termination.

Note: If a court involuntarily terminates your parental rights, there is a risk that CPS could investigate you again if you have other children to terminate your rights to any future kids. (What Are My Rights During a Child Protective Services (CPS) Investigation?)

When Can CPS Ask the Court to Terminate Your Parental Rights?

It is not uncommon for courts to terminate a parent’s rights to their children when CPS asks the court to do so after its investigation. Commonly, courts terminate parental rights when Child Protective Services investigates a complaint of child abuse or neglect, and the investigation shows that the parent abused or neglected their child.

When this happens, a CPS attorney will submit a petition to the court asking to schedule a date for a hearing. At the hearing, the judge will review the findings of the CPS investigation and hear the parent’s testimony to determine if there are sufficient grounds to terminate their parental rights.

In many cases, a judge will give the investigated parent a reasonable opportunity to demonstrate their fitness to care for the kids and ensure that nothing poses a danger to their children’s safety and health.

That is why it is critical to:

  • Have an attorney on your side to convince the judge to give you an opportunity to take all the necessary steps to have your children returned to your care;

  • Follow any court orders issued by the judge that give you a chance to demonstrate your parental fitness.

At the hearing, the attorney representing CPS may argue that giving you any opportunities to return your child would not be in the best interests of the child. That is why it is imperative to be represented by your own lawyer to protect your rights and challenge the arguments raised by the opposing side.

What Happens if the Court Terminates Your Parental Rights?

If your parental rights are terminated, you will no longer have the right to:

  • see or visit your children

  • talk to your children

  • make any decisions that impact your child’s life.

Once the court terminates your parental rights, the State of Texas will assume legal custody of your child. However, if the child’s other parent’s parental rights have not been affected by the CPS investigation and the termination of your rights, the parent would most likely be awarded sole custody.

Grounds to Terminate Parental Rights in Texas

There are several reasons your parental rights can be terminated in Texas. However, the most commonly cited grounds to terminate parental rights in the State of Texas are:

  • Abandonment. If a parent is guilty of abandoning their child, the court may terminate their parental rights. Abandonment means having no contact with your child for at least six months and leaving a child in a situation that most reasonable parents would not allow.

  • Abuse. If there is evidence that you abused your child physically, emotionally, mentally, or sexually, and the CPS investigation confirmed this, you risk having your parental rights terminated.

  • Neglect. If you place your child in a situation where he or she is subject to a foreseeable risk of harm or fail to provide for your child’s basic needs, your parental rights may be terminated on the grounds of neglect.

Get a Free Consultation with a CPS Lawyer

If Child Protective Services is investigating you for abandonment, abuse, or neglect, do not hesitate to contact a CPS lawyer to prevent the agency from terminating your parental rights.

Schedule a free consultation with our attorneys at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard to determine your best course of action during a CPS investigation. Call 254-501-4040 for a free case review.

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