Seeking Managing Conservatorship in a CPS Case

Warning: These instructions provide general information and are not a substitute for legal advice. It’s a good idea to speak to a lawyer about your situation.

These instructions explain the basic steps to file a Petition in Intervention in a CPS case if you are seeking managing conservatorship of a child.

Use these instructions if:

CPS cases are legally complicated and can change significantly over a period of a year or more. This guide does not apply to every possible scenario or option in a CPS case. If you have questions about other legal options, you should speak to a lawyer. Use our Legal Help Directory to find a lawyer in your area.

Checklist Steps

It is important to understand these words:

  • Degrees of Consanguinity
    • First Degree – you are a parent or the child;
    • Second Degree – you are a brother, sister, grandparent, or grandchild;
    • Third Degree – you are a great-grandparent, great-grandchild, aunt who is a sister of a parent of the person, uncle who is a brother of the parent of the person, nephew who is a child of a brother or sister of the individual, or niece who is a child of a brother or sister of the person.

These are according to Texas Government Code Section 574.023(c).

  • Intervention – When a nonparent asks to become a party to an existing CPS case. A person can intervene in a CPS case to seek custody of a child ("managing conservatorship") or to have the parents' rights terminated so they can legally adopt the child. After intervening in the case, you can attend court, file legal documents, present evidence, and ask the court for certain orders. 
  • Intervenor – The person who files the Petition in Intervention.
  • Managing Conservator – A nonparent who the court appoints managing conservator of a child. They get to make all the decisions a parent typically makes. They also have all the same rights and duties that a parent would have to care for a child. 
  • Service of Citation – It is legal notice to the other side that you have filed your case. In general, it includes personal service, service by registered or certified mail, or service by publication.
  • Legal father – A person who has all the rights and duties of a parent by legal presumption (parents are or were married), an acknowledgement of paternity was filed, or by court order.
  • Alleged or unknown father – A father’s legal status influences many issues in a CPS case, including notice, service, and grounds for termination. It is important to understand the status of any fathers involved in the case. Read more about paternity and unknown fathers here.

The law only allows the following people to file an intervention in a CPS case seeking managing conservatorship of a minor child:

  1. You would have standing to file a new case regarding the child under Texas Family Code 102.003(a).
  2. A grandparent deemed by the court to have had substantial past contact with the child, and there is proof that there would be significant impairment of the child's physical health or emotional development from their parents. See Texas Family Code 102.004You will have to get the court's permission (request leave) to intervene.
  3. Another person deemed by the court to have had substantial past contact with the child, and there is proof that there would be significant impairment of the child's physical health or emotional development from their parents. See Texas Family Code 102.004. You will have to get the court's permission (request leave) to intervene.

If you file with standing under Texas Family Code 102.003(a) or 102.004(a), you are automatically added as a party, and the court cannot deny the intervention unless a motion to strike is filed.   

But: if you file the intervention under Texas Family Code Section 102.004(b), you do not automatically become a party. The judge must first grant "leave" to intervene. A judge can decide to (1) allow the intervention or (2) deny it—even if no party files a motion to strike and you meet all legal requirements.

Carefully read Requirements for Nonparent Intervention in a CPS Case for a full list of people with standing.

If the law allows you to file an intervention in the case, go to Step 3. If you are not sure, talk with a lawyer.

You do not have to file your intervention within a specific time frame. But any other party to the case can file a motion to strike, asking the court to deny your intervention for “sufficient cause.”

A judge may refuse to let you intervene because it is too close to the trial date, or it would make the case too complicated. You should check the court record of the case to ensure the trial date is not too close to when you want to file your intervention.

Speak with an attorney if you have questions about when you should intervene in a case. 

Fill out this starting form:

You will file the Petition with the court to start your intervention (if you do not need to request permission). It tells the judge and the other people involved what you are asking for (relief requested) and why you have the right to ask for it (standing).

When you fill out the Petition:

  • Print your answers clearly in blue or black ink.
  • Do not leave blanks.
  • Mark the proper boxes for standing.
  • Mark the proper boxes for relief requested.
  • Attach all necessary exhibits.
  • Talk to a lawyer if you have questions or need help.

Who is the petitioner? You are the petitioner: that is, the person who is filing the Petition in Intervention. The Department of Family and Protective Services (CPS) is also a Petitioner because they filed the original petition that started the case.

Who must be listed as a respondent? The parents of the children are typically the respondents because the case was filed against them by CPS.

Note: The Petition asks for your address. Each respondent will get a copy of your Petition. If you are concerned about a respondent knowing your address, call the Family Violence Legal Line at 800-374-4673 for free advice.

Fill out the appropriate additional starting forms:

  • Exhibit: Standing -

Exhibit A(1) (only if you are seeking managing conservatorship of the child and are claiming standing under Texas Family Code Section 102.003 or 102.004(a)(1) or 102.004(a)(2)).

Exhibit A(2) (only if you are seeking managing conservatorship of the child and are claiming standing under Texas Family Code Section 102.004(b)).

It is possible to claim standing under more than one statute but it can complicate your petition. If you are unsure of whether you should claim standing under more than one statute you should speak to a lawyer.

  • Exhibit: Relief Requested

Exhibit B(1) if you are seeking managing conservatorship.

You may plead for relief “in the alternative”—meaning that if you do not get the first thing you ask for, you want something else instead. This guide is not intended for alternative pleadings, but you can speak to an attorney about how to include this language.

Remember: you must have standing to seek each type of relief.

  • Exhibit: Unsworn Declaration (if required)

Exhibit C(1) if you are claiming standing under Texas Family Code 102.004(a)(1) or 102.004(b) to describe significant impairment to the physical health or emotional development of the child.

Exhibit C(2) if you are claiming standing under Texas Family Code 102.004(b)* to explain substantial past contacts with the child.

*Not all courts will require grandparents to prove substantial past contacts with the child under Texas Family Code 102.004(b). If you are a grandparent and are unsure of whether to attach this affidavit, you should speak with an attorney.

Although not required, it’s a good idea to have a family law lawyer review your completed forms. Family law lawyers specialize in cases involving families, such as paternity cases.

You can hire a family law lawyer just to review your forms. Hiring a lawyer for a limited purpose is called limited scope representation. After the lawyer completes their purpose, you can finish your case yourself. You may also be able to talk with a lawyer for free at a legal clinic. If you need help finding a lawyer, you can:

Make enough copies of your completed Petition in Intervention and all exhibits to have one copy for you and one copy for every other party you need to give a physical copy. If you are filing your petition through the e-filing system, you must be able to scan the petition as a PDF.

File your completed Petition in Intervention and other attachments with the court in the county where the case is being heard.

To file your forms online, go to E-File Texas and follow the instructions. Read How to E-File to learn more.

To file your forms in person, take your petition and copies to the district clerk’s office in the appropriate county.

Because DFPS filed the first petition starting the case, the attorney for DFPS is required to serve all respondent parents (including alleged fathers) and give them notice of the case. Depending on whether the parents (and alleged fathers) have responded to the case or appeared in court, you—an intervenor—may also be required to serve them with citation when you file the intervention.

You must only serve citation on any respondent who has not made a general appearance and from whom you seek affirmative relief. If a respondent has filed an answer or appeared in court on their own or through an attorney, a general appearance has been made, and service of citation is not required. You still must send a copy of the petition to all parties under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 21a so that they are aware the intervention has been filed. This process is generally easier than service of citation and can often be done electronically.

Determining whether or not a parent needs to be served is very important.  If a respondent is not properly served and has no notice of a petition in intervention, it is possible that any judgment granting relief requested by the intervenors could be void. Serving parents—particularly alleged or unknown fathers—can be complex. If you are not sure how a party needs to be served with your intervention petition, you should speak to an attorney.

You can read about what service of citation is and how to serve initial court papers for more information.

Review these instructions or speak to an attorney to determine if citation must be served on any respondent parents (including alleged fathers). If no service of citation is required, a copy of the petition must still be given to each party so that they know your intervention has been filed. The easiest way to give notice is through the e-filing system, but any method of notice under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 21a will work. 

If you are seeking to intervene under Texas Family Code 102.004(b), it is necessary to get the court’s permission to intervene. You can arrange to have the judge review your petition and request for leave in two ways:

  1. If there is a court hearing scheduled soon, you can attend court and bring a copy of your petition with you. In court, you can inform the judge that you have filed a petition for intervention, explain why you are asking for leave to intervene, and ask them to sign the order granting leave to intervene.
  2. If the next court hearing is not set for some time, you can try to have the judge review your petition outside of court. You can email the judge a copy of your petition and ask that leave to intervene be granted; however, you must copy all other parties on the email so that they are aware you are attempting to speak with the judge.

If you are filing an intervention under Texas Family Code 102.003, 102.004(a), or 102.005, the law does not require you to ask for leave to intervene before you become a party. However, sometimes it can be difficult to know whether the judge is aware that you are a party. You may attend any future court hearings. Be sure to bring a file-stamped copy of your petition and make the judge aware that it has been filed. You can also send a file-stamped courtesy copy of the petition to the judge. Remember that any communication with the judge must include all other parties to the case. 


Source URL: https://texaslawhelp.org/checklist/seeking-managing-conservatorship-in-a-cps-case