NOTE: EVERY Texan, including me, has a duty to report suspected child abuse or neglect to law enforcement or the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). Please do so here asap: https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Contact_Us/report_abuse.asp.
In a perfect world, none of my family law cases would involve any abuse, neglect, drug use, sexual assault, and so on. But it’s not a perfect world and many of my clients are either facing allegations of child misconduct or are forced to bring an opposing party to task for such misconduct. It is not a comfortable position to be in, trust me. However, with a family law attorney experienced in such tough cases, you can get your side of the story across and obtain justice.
What warrants emergency custody of a child?
In cases of child abuse or neglect, contact the DFPS immediately as set out above. Then I urge you to seek out an attorney. If you have learned about abuse, neglect, drug abuse or even sexual assault against a child, or if you are facing family violence, you probably already know you need help. Attorneys know that there are various means available in an “emergency” that can protect you and your children on short order.
You might be entitled one or more of the following:
- a temporary restraining order or temporary injunction, which restricts the opposing party from taking certain action, like taking the children out of school, hiding them from you, taking them out of state, etc;
- a writ of attachment, which is a relatively rare option where law enforcement takes your children out of a dangerous environment and returns them to you;
- a protective order, which is perhaps the most commonly known option, but ironically one of the most difficult to obtain;
- a temporary order after a hearing, which can, for instance, order that an offending parent have only supervised visitation.
What if I’m facing child misconduct allegations?
For those facing allegations of child misconduct, it’s important to understand just how vital it is to obtain counsel. Allegations of misconduct will often be first set out in an affidavit (or declaration), and often form the basis of a temporary restraining order excluding you from possession of your children or, in the case of a temporary ex parte protective order, exclude you from being around the alleged victim(s). These allegations can be devastating to you, but take heart; even a very comprehensive affidavit will only provide a snapshot of events and is often inherently one-sided. You will almost surely get notice of an upcoming hearing where the opponent must prove their case and where you can tell your side of the story. It’s imperative that you have an attorney at the hearing.
An experienced attorney can thwart false allegations and paint a more complete picture of events. But even if the allegations are largely true and can be proven, an experienced attorney can minimize the damage and can set you up for success as the case proceeds. For instance, if drugs are at issue, your attorney can help advocate for a phased possession order that gives you more time with your children as you show sobriety, negative drug tests, and so on.