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Child Protective Services in Texas: When CPS Can Terminate Parental Rights

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frisco child protective services lawyerIf you’re a parent, or grandparent, or even merely a concerned member of society, you should be aware of the basic purpose and operations of Child Protective Services (CPS) here in Texas. CPS performs a variety of specific functions, but all functions are ultimately carried out for the purpose of maximizing the safety and wellbeing of children. Here in the State of Texas, CPS is actually one of the departments of the Texas Department of Family & Protective Services (DFPS). 

We will devote several articles to CPS, with each article focusing on one particular aspect of its operations. In this post, we will concentrate on the termination of parental rights. As many people are aware, CPS can file a petition to terminate parental rights if CPS feels that such a motion is necessary. However, this can only be successful if certain conditions are met.

Grounds for Termination

In order for CPS to terminate a parent’s parental rights, two hurdles must be met: (1) CPS must identify and demonstrate the ground for termination, and (2) the termination must be in the child’s best interests. On the first hurdle, CPS must show through “clear and convincing” evidence to a judge or jury that the cited ground for termination exists. At the present time, the Texas Family Code recognizes a total of 21 separate grounds for termination of parental rights. The rationale of these grounds is self-evident; for instance, the first ground referenced in the Texas Family Code is leaving the child with another person, not the other parent, with no intent to return. Another ground is engaging in conduct which places the child at risk of serious physical or emotional harm.

Termination is in the Child’s Best Interests

Along with adequate grounds, CPS must also demonstrate that terminating the parent’s parental rights would be in the best interests of the child. As with every other type of court order involving children, the child’s best interest is the overriding concern. When a judge or jury decides whether termination of parental rights is in the child’s best interests, several factors are known to carry weight. The following is a partial list of these factors:

  • The actual harm which has been done to child already

  • The fear of returning to the parental home in the child

  • The age of the child

  • The current physical or emotional condition of the child

  • The number of instances of involving harm against the child

  • Substance abuse which has occurred in the household

  • The results of any psychiatric or psychological testing

  • The parenting skills demonstrated by the parent in question

  • The desires of the child

  • The reasons behind the acts or omissions of the parent

  • The likelihood of offenses in the future

  • The emotional and physical needs of the child

  • The stability of the proposed alternative home for the child

These are just some of the factors which are known to be significant in these examinations. Removing parental rights from a parent is among the most consequential things a court can order. Accordingly, the court will only permit this after a very thorough examination. A judge or jury will need to see clear and convincing evidence that doing so would be the best decision for the child. In these analyses, repeated instances of abuse will be viewed as highly important in making a determination. If the court believes that a certain harm to the child was an “isolated incident,” then the probability of termination may be quite low, depending on the severity of the harm. Repeated instances show a pattern of abusive behavior, and this makes termination much more probable.

Contact The Ramage Law Group for More Information

In the future, we will return and discuss one of the other functions of CPS. For more information, contact The Ramage Law Group by calling 972-562-9890.

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