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DFPS Took My Child: What Can I Do?

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) may only remove a child from a home under a limited set of circumstances, and then usually only after a hearing. In rare cases, the DFPS may make an emergency removal of a child with no prior court order permitting it to do so. Then the Department must appear in court no later than the next business day and provide sufficient evidence of “a continuing danger to the physical health or safety of the child if returned to the home or evidence that the child has been sexually abused and is at substantial risk of future sexual abuse.” Additionally, the Department must prove that:

  • There is not enough time to hold a proper hearing while protecting the physical health and safety of the child.
  • Remaining in the home would be contrary to the child’s welfare.
  • The Department made reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need to remove the child.

In emergency cases, the DFPS has the option of holding an emergency hearing before removal, and must prove everything it would have to prove in a post-removal emergency hearing.

In non-emergency hearings, DFPS believes that there is no urgent need for removal but the child’s safety is at risk if left in the parent’s care. Again, the DFPS must prove that it would be contrary to the child’s welfare to remain in the home, and that it made reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need for removal.

In either case, the DFPS must revisit the removal and any plans for a permanent placement for the child a short time after removal.

If DFPS took your child or children from you under these circumstances but without good reason, what can you do to protect yourself and recover your children?  DFPS does make mistakes. For starters, gather evidence of the good and loving home you provided your child: do you have receipts for clothes, gifts, music lessons, etc.?  Ask friends and neighbors who visited your home to write affidavits in your support. Pay attention to the specific reasons DFPS gives for the removal, and try to gather evidence that contradicts those reasons. For example, if a DFPS-administered drug test resulted in a false positive, submit to drug tests by an uninterested third party. Finally, contact a seasoned Texas family law attorney about your situation for advice and representation.

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Robert Reid McInvale
Attorney at Law

Robert Reid McInvale is an experienced family law attorney with a comprehensive practice in Houston. He provides dedicated and strong advocacy for his clients, helping them with all the issues surrounding their divorce, separation, child custody, and other marriage and family matters. Attorney McInvale—Reid to clients and friends—seemed destined for a law career. Born while his father was attending Emory University Law School, Reid grew up in Manchester, GA. His father was the city attorney for many years, as well as head of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It is in the family blood to become lawyers and help people get justice. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall is part of the McInvale family tree.

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