Few experiences in life are as intimidating, stressful, or terrifying as receiving a visit from Child Protective Services (CPS). For many parents, it's a surprise to see CPS knocking at their door and have no idea why they are there. When battling a child custody matter, it's essential to be prepared if a CPS worker shows up at your home or attempts to remove your child. Our San Antonio child custody lawyer explains the steps you should take if a CPS worker visits you.
Take the Situation Seriously
Never attempt to argue or get angry with a CPS worker. Failing to keep calm during this situation could hinder your case. While you might be confused why CPS is here, don't start acting defensively. It's a naturally scary situation to be in when you see CPS on your doorstep, but you need to try to remain as calm as possible. Be polite and firm as you speak to them, and never provide them with too much information.
Only Allow Entry if They Have a Proper Warrant
Unless the CPS officials have a court order or warrant, you should always refuse to let them into your home. If they do have a warrant, be sure to ask to see the physical copy of it before you let them in. Some CPS workers may try to lie or intimidate their way into your home. If you let them in without a warrant, you waive any protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment.
Record and Document the Situation
CPS workers are required to record any interrogations they have with children. If CPS is interviewing your child, make sure they are recording it. The CPS worker may claim to have lost their recorder or find another excuse not to tape the conversation. If they find an excuse not to tape the conversation, remind them that they are required by law to do so.
You can further protect yourself by recording the conversation yourself. It can be useful to your case to have your own recordings as backup evidence. Texas is a one-party consent state, meaning only one party must consent to be recorded for a recording to be legal. Therefore, you don't have to tell the CPS worker that you are taping the conversation.
Don't Tell CPS Anything and Request an Attorney
If CPS shows up unannounced, you will, without a doubt, be unprepared for the situation. When speaking to CPS, refrain from talking too much or giving away too much information. Do not submit to an interrogation from CPS — even if you are innocent and have nothing to hide. This is not the time, nor the place to try to explain yourself.
A CPS agent is there for a reason - to find evidence that confirms you have abused your child. You don't want to say anything that could possibly be used against you. Instead, tell the CPS worker that you would like to contact your attorney before moving forward or speaking further.
What to Do if CPS Removes Your Children
If CPS has a warrant and enters your home, they may have the right to remove your child at that very moment. It's essential to be prepared with a list of emergency contacts that might be willing to look after your child in the meantime. Be sure to discuss this with trusted friends or family members ahead of time, so you know exactly who to call. Additionally, contact your attorney as soon as possible if your children are taken from you.
Contact a Skilled Attorney
If CPS visited your home, or you are in the middle of an official CPS investigation, it's crucial to retain legal representation as soon as possible. At The Law Office of Derek S. Ritchie, PLLC, our San Antonio child custody attorney is here to protect your parental rights and defend you in your time of need while guiding you through the next steps to move forward.
Contact our San Antonio family law firm at (210) 761-4943 to schedule a consultation.