As background to the problem, Texas law provides that when CPS removes a child from a parent, either with or without a court order , the child’s parents are entitled to appear before the court to contest that removal (usually within 14 days of the removal). This proceeding is called an “Adversary Hearing.” If, after the Adversary hearing is conducted, the court upholds the removal of the child, then that court will typically order the parents to participate in, and complete, certain specific services related to the reason that the child was removed; like counseling, drug and alcohol assessments, psychological evaluations, random drug testing, parenting classes, and so on.
A problem can arise when the court upholds the removal of the child, but only one parent is responsible for that removal. Texas law allows the court to order both parents, including the “non-offending”(innocent) parent to complete services, like those discussed above. In my experience, that is what usually happens after an Adversary Hearing. Importantly, if either parent fails to complete those services, then the court could terminate that parent’s parental rights, even if that parent is innocent and was not at all responsible for the child’s unsafe environment. So, if, for example, Mom is using drugs with her boyfriend in the home with the children, and CPS receives a report about that circumstance, CPS can remove the children from Mom’s home; the court can uphold that removal, and order both Mom and Dad (who was not using drugs) to complete a list of services. If Dad is unable to work his schedule so that he can spend four (4) hours with a psychologist being evaluated; attend counseling, submit to random drug tests, and so on, then the court could terminate his rights to his kids; even though he is a non-offending (innocent) parent.
Because of this problem, there was a bill proposed in the Texas house of Representatives, during 2019: the Child Trauma Prevention Act (House Bill 3331), which would have addressed this situation. Unfortunately, that bill did not become law. Consequently, the problem described in this article still exists, as of the time of this writing. Anyone interested in working to address this situation should contact” their representatives in the Texas House of Representatives, and Texas Senate; the Texas Home School Coalition Association; or, the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF).
1 In an emergency situation, CPS can remove children from an unsafe place before presenting evidence to a court to obtain an Order authorizing the removal. Otherwise, a court order is required prior to removal.
2 By finding that “there was a danger to the physical health or safety of the child…which was caused by an act or failure to act of the person entitled to possession and for the child to remain in the home is contrary to the welfare of the child” TFC 262.201 (g) (1); also, that “the urgent need for protection required the immediate removal of the child and reasonable efforts , consistent with the circumstances and providing for the safety of the child, were made to eliminate or prevent the child’s removal; and” TFC 262.201 (g) (2) “reasonable efforts have been made to enable the child to return home, but there is a substantial risk of a continuing danger if the child is returned home.” TFC 262.201 (g) (3).
3 The bill passed the House committee with no witnesses testifying against it. However, the bill died in the House Calendars Committee because an unknown member of the committee stalled the bill until it died on a deadline.