Here, learn about terminations of parental rights in Child Protective Services cases. Understand the legal grounds for termination and what CPS must prove to terminate parental rights.
This article was written by Legal Aid of Northwest Texas and the Family Helpline at Texas Legal Services Center.
CPS's Burden of Proof
To terminate a parent’s rights to their child, a judge or jury must find by clear and convincing evidence that at least one ground for termination exists and that termination of the parent-child relationship is in the child’s best interest.
If DFPS is moving for termination, it has the burden of proof. Clear and convincing evidence is the burden of proof that DFPS must show the judge or jury when requesting that a parent’s rights be terminated. Clear and convincing evidence is the measure or degree of proof that will produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or conviction as to the truth of the allegations sought to be established.
A parent is not required to agree to the termination of their parental rights to their child. If a parent does not agree to have their rights to their child terminated, DFPS must be able to meet their burden of proof with evidence in court.
Grounds for Termination
The Texas Family Code currently lists 21 different possible grounds for termination of the parent-child relationship. Any ground for termination that DFPS will be asking the judge or jury to find against a parent must be listed in DFPS’s petition for termination of parental rights.
Some of the most common grounds for termination of a parent’s rights to their child involve the following:
- a parent abandoning a child who is in the care of CPS,
- a parent endangering the child
- a parent failing to comply with court orders that specifically established the actions necessary for the parent to obtain the return of their child who has been in the legal custody of CPS.
Best Interest of the Child
- the child’s age and physical and mental condition;
- stability of the household;
- the extent of harm to the child;
- whether the child has been the victim of repeated harm after DFPS involvement;
- whether the child is fearful of living in or returning home;
- the results of psychiatric, psychological, or developmental evaluations of all parties involved;
- whether there is a history of abusive or assaultive conduct in the household;
- whether there is a history of substance abuse in the household;
- whether the perpetrator of the harm to the child is identified;
- the willingness and ability of the child’s family to seek out, accept, and complete services as requested by DFPS;
- the willingness and ability of the child’s family to effect positive changes within a reasonable period of time;
- whether the child’s family demonstrates adequate parenting skills; and
- whether an adequate social support system is available to the child.
- the desires of the child;
- the emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future;
- the emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the future;
- the parental abilities of the individuals seeking custody;
- the programs available to assist these individuals in promoting the best interest of the child;
- the plans for the child by these individuals or the agency seeking custody;
- the stability of the home or proposed placement;
- the acts or omissions of the parent which may indicate that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one; and
- any excuse for the acts or omissions of the parent.
CPS Case Phases
This article, Child Protective Services: Termination of Parental Rights, is the seventh of seven articles originally prepared by Legal Aid of Northwest Texas. The other articles are:
- Child Protective Services: Reporting Abuse or Neglect
- Child Protective Services: Investigation Phase
- Child Protective Services: Family-Based Safety Services Phase
- Child Protective Services: The Removal Process
- Child Protective Services: Conservatorship Phase
- Child Protective Services: Final Hearing, Dismissal, Extension or Monitored Return
Child Custody & Visitation
Child Custody & Visitation
Parental Rights Reinstatement
This article provides information on reporting abuse or neglect to Child Protective Services.
This article discusses the investigation stage in Child Protective Services cases.
This article discusses the family-based safety services phase of a Child Protective Services case.
This article discusses the removal process in Child Protective Services cases.
This article discusses the conservatorship phase of a Child Protective Services case.
This article discusses Child Protective Services cases' final hearing, dismissal, extension, and monitoring phase.