What CPS Can and Cannot Do in Texas - janetmccullar (2023)

So what CPS can and cannot do in Texas? As a court-appointed custodial parent in Texas, you have certain rights and obligations under the law. It is important to understand what Child Protective Services (CPS) can and cannot do in terms of interacting with you and your family.

This blog post will provide an overview of CPS actions in Texas to ensure that all parents are familiar with their legal rights on this issue. We’ll discuss when it’s appropriate for CPS to get involved and how they interact legally with families while serving as a court-mandated service provider.

By understanding exactly what power – and limits — Child Protective Services has in our state, we hope that parents can have peace of mind knowing that their children are being looked after within the law’s proper scope.

Keep on reading for what CPS can and cannot do in Texas.

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Table of Contents

What is CPS?

What CPS Can and Cannot Do in Texas - janetmccullar (1)

Before going to what CPS can and cannot do in Texas, check out what CPS is. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is the home of Child Protective Services (CPS), providing critical assistance to children in need. It is responsible for investigating reports of abuse, neglect, or abandonment involving children or vulnerable adults in our state. CPS also provides direct services such as counseling and case management to families in need.

What CPS Can and Cannot Do in Texas – CAN DO

When a report of abuse is made, CPS is legally authorized to investigate the situation. This can include interviewing children and adults in the home or at school, observing family dynamics and habits, taking pictures of injuries or property damage, and asking questions about what happened.

CPS also has the authority to remove a child from their home if they feel that doing so is in the best interest of the child. This is only done when all other measures, such as counseling and case management, have failed. CPS will also work with families to develop a safety plan that can help keep children safe while they remain living at home.

What CPS Can and Cannot Do in Texas - janetmccullar (2)

What CPS Can and Cannot Do in Texas – CANNOT DO

CPS cannot force parents or guardians to do anything against their will. It is important to note that CPS can only investigate what has been reported and cannot look into matters that have not been brought up. Additionally, CPS cannot force a parent or guardian to accept services they don’t want. Any type of service provided by CPS should be mutually agreed upon between the family and the CPS caseworker.

CPS also cannot take actions against a family without due process and notification to all parties involved. This means that any type of CPS investigation or service must be conducted within the parameters of Texas law, including providing notice to all parties regarding what is happening and giving them the opportunity to present their side of the situation if necessary.

Finally, CPS does not have the authority to make legal decisions about the child’s living situation or placement in a home. That is up to the court system and any other involved parties to decide.

That’s all for What CPS can and cannot do in Texas. Let’s continue to read for further information of CPS rights in Texas.

What CPS Can and Cannot Do in Texas - janetmccullar (3)

What Are Grounds for CPS to Remove Children in Texas?

CPS can legally remove a child from their home under certain conditions, that’s what CPS can and cannot do in Texas. These include physical or sexual abuse of the child, neglect that endangers the health and safety of the child, abandonment of the child by their parents, or any other situation where it is determined that leaving the child in the home poses an immediate danger to them.

In addition to the above, CPS can also remove a child if their living conditions are considered hazardous. This includes situations where the home is unfit for habitation due to excessive filth and clutter, lack of food or running water, or any other condition that would endanger the health and safety of the child.

How to Deal With CPS in Texas?

What CPS Can and Cannot Do in Texas - janetmccullar (4)

If you are contacted by CPS, it is important to remain calm. They will be asking questions and trying to gain information in order to make a determination of what happened and what needs to happen next. It is important to cooperate with them as much as possible but also know your rights.

It is also important to remember that CPS is there to help. They are not out to get you and in many cases, can be very understanding of what is going on in your family. If CPS does determine that a child needs to be removed from the home, it is important to follow their instructions for how it should happen and what services may need to be provided in order for them to

That’s everything you need to know about what CPS can and cannot do in Texas. Check out right here if you want to know how to dismiss a CPS case.

FAQs of CPS Rights in Texas

Does Child Protective Services (CPS) have the authority to end parental rights in Texas?

The court may opt to take legal action against you, resulting in the termination of your parental rights if such a decision is deemed beneficial for the children. To do so, they must be able to show that you have gone against § 161.001(1) of Texas Family Code and prove it with sufficient evidence.

Uncovering the Secrets to Successfully Defeating CPS in Texas

Dismissal is often the optimal resolution to a Child Protective Service case in Texas. If CPS can affirm that certain conditions are met or if the judge determines there isn’t sufficient evidence, then dismissal becomes a likely option. Dismissing this type of charge will ultimately provide peace of mind and protect your rights as an individual.

When assessing a home for foster care in Texas, what criteria is the CPS department searching for?

CPS will check if you have enough food, comfortable sleeping arrangements, and appropriate clothing; however, they are also on the lookout for any potential health hazards or possible illegal activities. It is ultimately up to you how far CPS should investigate in your premises.

Can I sue CPS in Texas?

If your civil rights have been violated by CPS, a Section 1983 or Civil Rights claim may be filed in federal court against the caseworker and/or the agency. Lawyers refer to this action as an opportunity for legal recourse.

What constitutes as abuse in the eyes of Child Protective Services (CPS) in Texas?

According to the Texas family code, any infliction of physical harm or even the realistic potential for said harm upon a child is recognized as abuse and will be punished accordingly.

Conclusion of What CPS Can and Cannot Do in Texas

As parents in Texas, it’s important to be aware of what Child Protective Services can and cannot do in terms of investigations and assisting families. Although they have certain powers, they must always follow the law and act with due process when it comes to any type of investigation or service.

Knowing what CPS rights are and what constitutes abuse can be essential to protect your family’s rights if a situation arises. Thank you for reading our article about what CPS can and cannot do in Texas.


What can't CPS do in Texas? ›

CPS cannot enter your home unless you give them permission to do so, they have a court order allowing them to lawfully enter your home, or have compelling evidence that your child is in immediate danger. You may feel unprepared when a CPS social worker visits your home.

What are grounds for CPS to remove a child in Texas? ›

CPS can immediately take children without a court order only if:
  • There is a present and immediate threat of physical or sexual abuse.
  • Leaving the children in the home is not safe or best for the children's welfare.
  • CPS made reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need for removal.
May 22, 2020

Can I refuse to talk to CPS in Texas? ›

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 and a caseworker starts asking you questions, you can exercise your right to remain silent by politely telling the investigator that you do not want to answer.

Can CPS terminate parental rights in Texas? ›

CPS may choose to petition the court for legal termination of your parental rights. The judge will rule against you if it can be proven that you have committed one or more violations of § 161.001(1) of the Texas Family Code, and that termination is in the best interests of the children.

What does Texas CPS look for in a home? ›

They may want to see if there is food in the house, proper sleeping conditions, and plenty of clothes. But, they're also looking for signs of health issues, drugs, weapons, and anything that might be used against you. How far you let CPS go in looking around is up to you.

What authority does CPS have in Texas? ›

Typically, Texas Child Protective Services will obtain a court order to remove the child from home. However, CPS in Texas does have the legal authority to do so without a court order if the CPS investigator feels that the situation creates imminent danger to the child and immediate removal is necessary.

What rights do I have against CPS in Texas? ›

What are my rights? You have the right to talk to your CPS caseworker. Communications with the caseworker are not confidential, and anything you say can be used in court. If CPS has filed a lawsuit against you to take your children, you have the right to a court-appointed attorney if you cannot afford an attorney.

What is considered an unfit home for a child in Texas? ›

The Texas unfit parent definition is somewhat open to the interpretation of the judge handling the custody case. However, the Texas Family Code general guidelines state a parent is deemed unfit to raise a child if doing so would significantly affect the child's physical or emotional health and development.

How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Texas? ›

Information from an inconclusive or unsubstantiated report shall be deleted from the index after 10 years if no subsequent report concerning the same suspected child abuser is received within that time.

Can social services take my child away without evidence? ›

Can social services take my child away without evidence? No, there must be evidence in support of the application from social services when they are asking the court to remove your child/ren from your home.

What not to say to CPS? ›

Despite how emotionally charged these situations are, you must remain calm when interacting with social workers and police officers. Anything you say will be used in a CPS investigation as evidence. In many circumstances, it is best to say nothing at all.

Do I have to let CPS in my house Texas? ›

Do not let the CPS workers into your home. The only legal ways into your home are: In emergency situations (immediate and obvious danger to life or limb) With your permission.

Can a judge overrule CPS in Texas? ›

Ultimately, the judge has greater authority to control a CPS lawsuit involving an allegation of abuse or neglect to a child. However, the judge's authority is limited to only address requests and evidence that are present to the Court, so many decisions get made by CPS without the judge even knowing about it.

Can you sue CPS in Texas? ›

I don't want to take up a great deal of time discussing the legalities of using the state of Texas, but legally speaking, it is possible to file a lawsuit against Child Protective Services.

On what grounds can a child be taken away from its mother in Texas? ›

The number one reason a parent could lose custody of their children in Texas is child abuse. If a parent has physically abused their child, the court may terminate their parental rights and allow the other parent to obtain full custody rights. In Texas, having full custody is known as sole managing conservatorship.

What does it mean when CPS red flags you? ›

Red flags are warning signs to look out for that potential child abuse and neglect are occurring within a client's home.

What are social services not allowed to do? ›

What Social Services Cannot Do. Social services cannot remove your child from your home without an order by the court, your consent, or a Police Protection Order. Additionally, social services cannot decide what will happen to your child or place your child in permanent foster care without a court's decision.

How long does a CPS investigation take in Texas? ›

The investigation phase should be completed within 45 days from the date of intake. If there is good cause, the caseworker may request a 45-day extension.

What is Section 261.101 of the Texas Family Code? ›

Sec. 261.101. PERSONS REQUIRED TO REPORT; TIME TO REPORT. (a) A person having reasonable cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect by any person shall immediately make a report as provided by this subchapter.

How do you fight CPS and win in Texas? ›

In many circumstances, the best way to beat the case is to go for a dismissal. In Texas, a Child Protective Service case may be dismissed should the judge deem there to be a lack of evidence to warrant such an investigation or indictment, or if CPS is satisfied that certain circumstances are met.

What happens if you ignore CPS in Texas? ›

CPS would obtain a court order signed by a judge that permits them to remove your child from the home. The court order would be all CPS needs to remove your child from the home.

Can you press charges against someone for making false accusations to CPS in Texas? ›

Section 261.107 provides the civil and criminal penalties associated with falsely reporting child abuse in Texas. This section provides that “a person commits an offense if, with the intent to deceive, the person knowingly makes a report…that is false.”

What does CPS consider abuse in Texas? ›

The Texas family code states that a physical injury to your child that results in substantial harm to the child or the genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury is counted as abuse in Texas.

Are CPS reports confidential in Texas? ›

Just as your attorney owes you a duty of care to keep your communications private, your child's attorney (known as an attorney ad litem) owes your child the same duty. Unless your child specifically instructs their attorney to share information told to them, the information must be kept confidential.

What is considered an unstable parent in Texas? ›

This means they will have no legal right to possession or visitation rights with their child. This is usually the case for a parent unfit to safely contact their child at all – for example, someone whose household has a history of family violence, emotional abuse, or another similar dangerous risk.

What makes a mother unfit legally in Texas? ›

What exactly is an unfit parent in the eyes of the law? The legal definition of an unfit parent is when the parent through their conduct fails to provide proper guidance, care, or support. Also, if there is abuse, neglect, or substance abuse issues, that parent will be deemed unfit.

What age can child refuse to see parent in Texas? ›

At What Age Can a Child Refuse Visitation in Texas? In Texas, there is no age under 18 that allows for a child to refuse visitation. Visitation is the right of the parent, and it cannot be taken away by the custodial parent or child. The only option would be for the custodial parent to request a modification of orders.

How do I get CPS to drop a case? ›

How will the CPS drop charges?
  1. Formal acquittal. ...
  2. Discontinuance. ...
  3. Lack of evidence. ...
  4. Evidence against you was illegally obtained. ...
  5. The prosecution is not in the public interest. ...
  6. To buy time to prepare for a later trial.
Jul 20, 2021

Can you appeal a CPS case in Texas? ›

Appeals in parental termination and child protection cases are governed by the rules of appellate procedure for accelerated appeals, but include additional expedited deadlines and procedures. See TEX. R. APP.

How do I get a CPS case dismissed in Texas? ›

It can be dismissed by CPS if they feel like the child is not in any real danger. It can also be dismissed by a judge if CPS fails to provide enough evidence to prove that the alleged abuse or neglect actually occurred.

What would make social services remove a child? ›

What are the common reasons social services would want to remove a child from a family? There are many reasons why a child could be removed from their home and placed outside of family and friends, but common reasons include abuse, neglect, illness, or abandonment.

Does the judge always agree with social services? ›

The judge is likely unless he or she considers that the evidence before the court suggests otherwise to take full account of the recommendations made by children's services and the guardian.

What powers do social services have? ›

Social services have a statutory obligation to safeguard and promote the welfare of vulnerable children and adults and can provide a wide range of services to children and their parents, usually within the own home environment and co-ordinated by a social worker.

How much evidence does CPS need? ›

The evidence they gather includes documentary, physical, photographic and other forensic evidence and not just witness testimony. The police arrest and interview suspects. All of this produces a file which when complete the police send to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for review and a decision on prosecuting.

Should you be honest with CPS? ›

For that reason, it's essential to be honest with the family. Terry advises, “Remind the family that you are mandated by law to call this in. Alleviate the fears of parents (having contact with CPS). Honesty helps build relationship and trust.”

Can you sue social services for emotional distress? ›

Yes, you can sue social services for distress and potentially other damages too. As well as the figure that's awarded for your psychological distress (which is known as non-material damages), you may also be eligible to receive material damages too.

How does CPS violate the 4th Amendment? ›

They use police presences to squelch and put down any citizen who asserts their 4th Amendment rights by not allowing an unlawful investigation to take place in their private home when no imminent danger is present.

Can CPS remove a child without a court order in Texas? ›

Emergency Removal

Removal without a court order: DFPS can remove a child without a court order in some emergency circumstances.

Can social services watch my house? ›

Re: Can social workers just enter and search your home

Only the police can do this, and even they have to have a search warrant from a judge. You have every right to refuse any social service people admission to your home.

What powers to the CPS have? ›

The CPS:
  • decides which cases should be prosecuted;
  • determines the appropriate charges in more serious or complex cases, and advises the police during the early stages of investigations;
  • prepares cases and presents them at court; and.
  • provides information, assistance and support to victims and prosecution witnesses.

Can I sue CPS for emotional distress in Texas? ›

CPS investigations can be traumatic and stressful for both parents and children. However, emotional distress alone does not give you the right to sue CPS. Since CPS social workers are government agents, they cannot act in ways that violate your established civil rights.

What do judges look for in child custody cases Texas? ›

Age and health of the child(ren) Age and health of the parents (or a non-parent conservator involved in the matter) Special needs of any involved parties. Stability of home environment of the child.

How long does a parent have to be absent to lose rights in Texas? ›

“voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another without providing adequate support of the child and remained away for a period of at least six months

Can a judge overrule the CPS? ›

The CPS is an organisation which performs public acts and duties, in particular, applying the Code for Crown Prosecutors and deciding whether or not to prosecute a case. A decision whether or not to prosecute can be challenged by Judicial Review. Proceedings are heard in the High Court.

Can a case go to CPS without evidence? ›

Before charging, the CPS must be satisfied that there is enough evidence. This means there must be a realistic prospect of conviction in relation to each accused and for each and every charge.

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