When CPS (Department of Family and Protective Services) gets involved in your lives, it can be helpful to know what ammunition you may have at your disposal to assist you in the courtroom. There are many types of motions you can file. You’re often entitled to a court appointed attorney. You do not have to simply do everything they ask. Once they are involved, their policy is no spanking. That doesn’t mean you can’t spank them, figuratively, in the courtroom. It requires strategy, patience, and creativity. An attorney should assist you in finding the many ways you can help your child, even if he or she is not in your care at the present time. Get involved. Don’t give up.
When CPS (the Department of Family and Protective Services) gets involved in your lives, it can be helpful to know what ammunition you may have to assist you in the courtroom. One of CPS’ policies is that spanking, or any corporal punishment for that matter, is not allowed. It’s allowed by law typically and is not criminal for the average citizen and parent, but when a child is in CPS custody or under their care, you can’t spank them.
The same is not true for CPS representatives and their counsel, figuratively, of course. They sometimes need to be put back in their place. Parents are entitled to ethical and zealous advocacy, and this article will explore some of the facets of the same. When parents are being sued for termination of their rights, they are entitled to proper representation, even pursuant to court order – similar to criminal cases. A lawsuit involving termination is a constitutional matter – get an attorney! Ask for one, early and often. Ask the court to delay proceedings until you get one. Let the court know you need one. Don’t talk to CPS unless you have one! If you are found indigent (lacking in appropriate funds to afford an attorney of your own), the Court must, if they find you indigent and you’re facing termination, appoint one to you.
Now, to be clear, the case revolves around the child. The legal terminology and standard is what is “in the child’s best interest.” I believe PARENTS are in the child’s best interest, and they should do all that’s necessary to prove it – which includes the filing of certain motions and pursuing certain claims and defenses. Parents come in all colors, shapes, and sizes (so to speak). It may be a mother, a grandmother, a father, a cousin, a “baby mama,” an adoptive person, a “sperm donor” – it doesn’t matter. I’ll refer to each of these individuals in the most commone sense – a parent. In fact, sometimes the parent may even be a criminal defendant in a related or unrelated charge. Doesn’t make them NOT a parent.
Attorneys are the voice of the parent and should adequately pursue the parent’s (their client’s) goals – to get CPS out of their lives and safety and security for their children. Be aware that CPS states on its own website that their mission “is to protect children…by involving clients, families, and communities.” [emphasis added] Their vision includes being recognized for having “effective partnerships with clients, communities and state leaders,” being “accountable for its actions and communicat[ing] openly with clients and stakeholders.” Who are the communities? Who are the stakeholders? What in the world does any of that mean? You think any of these people know you personally? That they look out for you and your child, truly? It’s a government operation, comprised of self-serving policies that encourage and promote their own existence, in addition to the programs they are to offer for parents. But don’t be mistaken, like much of bureaucracy, it has faults, loopholes, standardized options, and minimalistic mechanisms for real efficiency and growth. It’s not run by the snazziest of all business acumen. It has issues. Generally well-purposed if not also generally poor in function.
The rate of recidivism (that means, how often people begin and quit their jobs / turnover rate) is high. This can give a parent an advantage. A well-seasoned attorney can know more than the actual caseworkers about their relative roles, services, and occupations. A parent should be creative in his or her approach to a case. A parent can be. The government and its conveyor belt style often can’t be. They have too many cases. They’re overloaded and underpaid. A parent should fight to have particular services, based on particular facts – not just what the Jones or Smith family did the last 8000 times they were in court.
A parent is not bound by the policies of CPS. A parent can ask the court for permission to do virtually anything, within reason, during the case. Think outside of the box. A parent could visit a child at the school for lunch, even though she only has one hour of visitation at the CPS office. Maybe a birthday party attendance in a neutral location, or other holiday celebrations. Maybe letters and cards and phone calls, in excess of the normal templated case. Parents have every right to ask for what’s in the child’s best interest, right? A parent needs to push for more time with his child in order to continue the bonding relationship.
There are so many possibilities. The sky is the limit; the Texas Family Code is not. It is not a prescripted program. The legislature is generally not as fast as reality and case-law. Parents are allowed to request anything that will maximize the child’s welfare, even if it wasn’t expressly written in the law. The Courts have broad discretion in ruling in these cases, and parents should evaluate and brainstorm all of the many ways they can change a case to favor them and their situation. Although a decent helping of humble pie is requisite; a parent must also not simply lie down. They should fight, creatively, instinctively, intelligently, and strategically to get their children back. An attorney can help a parent navigate through the maze of possibilities and the myriad of choices in battling CPS.
There is still a good reason for spanking. Do it with paper filings, motions, and arguments in the courtoom.
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