How CPS Involvement Can Affect Custody Orders
Child Protective Services (CPS)
Whether CPS involvement will affect your court-ordered custody and visitation depends on what stage of CPS involvement happens in your case.
Safety Plans are not modifications.
Involvement with Child Protective Investigations and Family Based Safety Services will never result in an automatic change to your custody order.
Although CPS’s policy says that they are not allowed to violate a court order or tell a parent to violate a court order, it is common for CPS to ask a parent to temporarily agree to let the child live outside the home or temporarily agree to give up visitation while the case is pending.
This is usually done for the protection of the child, and it will be called a safety plan or Parent-Child Safety Placement (or PCSP). A parent can decide whether or not to agree to the temporary plan and can change their mind at any point; however, there may be consequences to doing this, such as a parent being ordered to participate in services or a child being legally removed from the home.
Court-Ordered Services and Temporary Visitation Orders
In a Court Ordered Services (also called Motion for Required Participation) cases, a court will not modify an existing Suit Affecting Parent Child Relationship order. However, a court may enter separate orders regarding temporary visitation and where the child lives on a temporary basis. Indigent parents in these cases are entitled to court appointed counsel, so you can ask your attorney any questions you have about your order. When this type of case is over (assuming the child is not legally removed at a later point), then any orders that were in place before the case will continue to be in effect.
Temporary Managing Conservatorships
In a case where a child has been legally removed (often called a Temporary Managing Conservatorship or TMC case), the court will issue new temporary orders regarding the conservatorship of the child.
These orders must be followed while the case is pending, and any old orders will not be in effect. At the end of a TMC case, two different things can happen:
The case may be dismissed; this means that any prior orders will be in effect again, or
A judge can grant new permanent orders, such as terminating a parent’s rights, giving permanent managing conservatorship to a relative, or modifying which parent has managing conservatorship of a child. In this case, the new orders must be followed, and the old orders are no longer in effect.
CPS told me to modify my order to keep my child safe; how can I do this?
In situations where CPS does not have enough evidence to file a legal case and remove a child from the home, or does not want to remove a child because at least one protective parent or other adult is willing and able to protect the child, they may ask that protective parent or caregiver to go to court to modify the order or set up an original order.
Three Ways to Modify Your Orders
Changing your court orders to keep your child safe can be done three ways:
Pro se: meaning a person would represent themselves in court
Hiring an attorney to file the paperwork and handle the case, or
Going through the Attorney General’s Office to set up the order
TexasLawHelp offers information about modifying a court order and getting a new court order.
Can the Attorney General Child Support Division change my orders?
The Attorney General Child Support Division helps many Texans get child support and custody orders, but in some counties, the process may take many months. This may not be fast enough to comply with CPS’s request or to protect the child.
The process may be slowed even more if a parent is challenging to locate and serve with paperwork. Further, child support court is usually very busy, and the court may not be able to allow the parties much time to present evidence about child safety, family violence, and other issues such as mental health or substance abuse. If these are the types of issues that CPS believes are making the child’s situation unsafe, then a general family court may be preferable to the Attorney General Child Support Review process.
CPS Caseworker Expectations
It is important to keep in mind that CPS caseworkers are not lawyers; they may expect the process of setting up orders to be faster than it actually is. If you have questions about your options to set up an order and the expected timeline, you can contact the Family Helpline at 844-888-6565.
Court-Ordered Visitation and Child SafetyThis article addresses court-ordered visitation when there is a child safety concern.
Safe Child Visitation Without Court OrdersThis article discusses possible actions to take when you (1) worry about a child's safety with the other parent, and (2) have no court orders about...
Protecting Children from Nonparent Third PartiesThis article looks at your options if you worry about your child's safety around third parties in the other parent's home.