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Child Protective Services Article 6 of 7: Final Hearing, Dismissal, Extension or Monitored Return

Child Protective Services (CPS)


This article provides information on the final hearing, dismissal, extension and monitored phase of dealing with Child Protective Services. This article was written by Legal Aid of Northwest Texas and the Family Helpline at Texas Legal Services Center.

Adapted from the Texas Young Lawyers Association DFPS Handbook
 


 

Final Hearing

The time date and place for the final hearing or trial will be set well in advance but must be set no later than the first Monday after the one year anniversary of DFPS being named as Temporary Managing Conservator of your child. If the child has not been returned to a parent in a "return and monitor" and the court does not find extraordinary circumstances for granting an extension of the one-year deadline:

  • a final hearing or trial must begin, or
  • a final order regarding conservatorship (which may also include termination of parental rights in some cases) must be signed, or
  • the case must be dismissed.

At the final hearing or trial a judge or jury will decide whether or not the child should be returned to a parent, or whether a parent’s rights should be restricted or terminated.

Extensions

In certain circumstances the court may grant a one-time extension of the one year deadline for no more than 180 days. The court must find “extraordinary circumstances” to grant an extension.

Texas law prohibits parties from agreeing to extend the case beyond the 180 day extension granted by the judge. At the end of the extended deadline the following may occur:

  1. an agreed order for conservatorship or termination of parental rights shall be entered by the court;
  2. the child shall be returned to a parent in a monitored return;
  3. a final hearing or trial shall be heard; or
  4. the case must be dismissed.

Monitored Return

If the court believes that a child may be returned to a parent safely, the court will often order a monitored return of the child. If the court orders a monitored return, a new deadline of 180 days from when the court ordered the return will be set. Under a monitored return, DFPS maintains temporary custody of the child but the child is placed with a parent. This may be done immediately, or with a scheduled transition moving the child back into the parent's home over a period of time while the parent completes the remaining requirements of their service plan and follows any other court orders. Monitored returns are ordered in an effort to allow a parent and child to readjust to living with each other and ensure that safety concerns do not redevelop.

If the monitored return is not successful, the child may be removed from the parent again. If a child is removed from a parent during a return and monitor, and the court agrees with the removal, the court will issue a dismissal date of either the original one year dismissal date, or 180 days from the date the child was re-removed from the parent, whichever is later. If a child is removed from a parent during a monitored return the case will most likely be set for a final hearing or trial.

Conclusion

A parent may request that the court order an extension of the one year deadline or a monitored return even if all parties are not in agreement. If DFPS removes a child from a parent during a monitored return, a parent may also contest DFPS’s decision to remove the child and request a hearing before the court to address the issue. 

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