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Texas child custody decisions may be wrongly influenced

A recent report in the Austin American-Statesman suggests that many of the decisions affecting child custody cases may not have withstood closer scrutiny. The report says that Texas routinely overrules many of the decisions made by Texas Child Protective Services regarding whether a child has been the victim of abuse. The report says that more than one out of every three challenges to the CPS's assessments is successful, and those numbers are on the increase.

For some perspective on how often CPS decisions are overturned, consider that 27 percent of CPS determinations regarding alleged abuse or neglect were reversed in 2009. In contrast, 42 percent of those challenges succeeded in 2013 out of a total of 1,140 that were appealed.

What makes these numbers so important is that many of the CPS decisions are later used by the court in determining which parents should have custody during child custody disputes. There is probably nothing more damaging to a parent's petition to have primary custody than a negative determination by the state agency tasked with preventing children from abuse or neglect. Additionally, some of the CPS decisions are also used as evidence in other cases not related to family law.

Parents who are seeking custody of their child should know that some of the evidence the other parent may offer can be challenged for its accuracy. That is also why it is crucial for them to have a strong advocate who is familiar with CPS and how to appeal their determinations. Sometimes just having someone there to offer the court a different perspective on the relationship between the parent and the child can make a difference.

Source: KHOU.com, "More Texas child abuse claims by CPS being overturned" No author given, May. 26, 2014

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