1. Adversary Hearing

15 minutes; up to 25 suggested best practice

Prior to Hearing, review court file to determine:

⧠ Hearing set within 14 days of removal Tex. Fam. Code § 262.201(a) unless temporary order extended under Tex. Fam. Code § 262.201(a-3)

⧠ Child’s GAL/AAL has been appointed and notified of hearing. Tex. Fam. Code § 107.011; Tex. Fam. Code § 107.012

⧠ All necessary parties served. Tex. Fam. Code § 102.009

⧠ Court of Continuing, Exclusive Jurisdiction identified. Tex. Fam. Code § 155.101

At Hearing:

⧠ Identify those present, note those not present, determine service on parties, and swear witnesses. Tex. Fam. Code § 102.009

⧠ Parents not represented by attorney informed of right to be represented by an attorney, and if indigent and in opposition to suit, right to court-appointed attorney. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.201(a-1)

⧠ If a parent claims indigence, hear evidence and make determination. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.201(a-3)

⧠ Confirm that DFPS has generated notice to relatives. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.1095(a)

⧠ Determine if language interpretation is needed. Tex. Gov. Code § 57.002

⧠ Determine whether parent, alleged father, or relative before the court submitted Child Placement Resources Form. Tex. Fam. Code § 261.307(a)(2); Tex. Fam. Code § 262.201(c)

⧠ Review placement and determine whether DFPS and criminal background checks have been conducted and whether home studies have been initiated. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.114(a-1)(2); Tex. Fam. Code § 264.114(b)

⧠ Inquire about Indian/Native American Heritage. 25 U.S.C. § 1912; § Tex. Fam. Code § 262.201(a-4)

•   Inquire of all parties if there’s Indian heritage in the family.

•   Determine which tribes may be involved.

•   Ensure proper notice to parent, tribe if known, and Bureau of Indian Affairs if tribe unknown. (See Topical Checklist: ICWA)

⧠ Ask Attorney Ad Litem if has seen client and when.

•   If AAL has not seen client, ensure form is provided. Tex. Fam. Code § 107.004(d)(2)

⧠ Review and approve temporary Family Visitation Plan. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.115

At the End of the Hearing:

Determine if sufficient evidence to grant DFPS TMC of child; if not, return the child. Evidence is sufficient to satisfy a person of ordinary prudence and caution that:

•   There was a danger to physical health or safety of the child, which was caused by the act or failure to act of the person entitled to possession. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.201(b)(1)

•   The urgent need for protection required the immediate removal of the child and reasonable efforts made to prevent or avoid removal. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.201(b)(2)

•   Reasonable efforts have been made to enable the child to return to the home but there is a substantial risk of a continuing danger if the child is returned home. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.201(b)(3)

•   There is a continuing danger to the physical health or safety of the child and for the child to remain in the home is contrary to the welfare of the child. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.201(c)

If evidence is sufficient to appoint DFPS as TMC, inform parents that their rights may be terminated or limited. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.201(c)

If citation by publication required, render temporary order without regard to citation being published. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.205(d)

Determine if aggravated circumstances are alleged or exist. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.2015

Determine whether family violence has occurred and Protective Order necessary or available. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.201(c)

Determine whether child victim of human trafficking and needs placement in secure agency foster or group home. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.011

Unless not in the child’s best interest, place child with:

•   Child’s noncustodial parent; or

•   Another relative of the child if placement with the noncustodial parent is inappropriate. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.201(e)

ISSUE COURT ORDER and include or address:

•   Service on all parties entitled to service. Tex. Fam. Code § 102.009

•   Notice of removal to all parties entitled to notice. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.1095

•   Parentage or DNA testing Tex. Fam. Code § 160.502

•   Dismissal date. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.401

•   Transfer to court of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction, if applicable. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.203

Best Practices:

Review diligent efforts to locate parties not present.

Engage parties with direct questions:

•   Do you speak English?

•   Do you understand the purpose of this hearing?

•   Do you understand what I’ve explained about your parental rights?

Ask DFPS direct and specific questions about Reasonable Efforts.

•   Tell me what efforts you made to prevent or eliminate the need to remove Mary Jane Smith

•   Tell me what efforts you made to enable Mary Jane to return home

•   Tell me specifically the continuing danger to Mary Jane if she is returned home

Review services with parents, as applicable or appropriate. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.105

Set status hearing date and announce in open court. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.201(a)

Ask the following questions:

•   What is preventing this child from returning home today?

•   How is my decision specific to this child and this family?

•   Are there cultural issues we need to understand?

Well-being issues that may be pertinent at Adversary Hearing:

Education Decision-maker, school stability, education goals, progress, school-related issues. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.004; Tex. Educ. Code § 25.001(g) [BP at Adversary Hearing]

Medical care and behavioral or psychiatric care. Tex. Fam. Code § 266.007 [BP at Adversary Hearing]

Young adult presence at hearing or opinion about education or medical care. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.302; Tex. Fam. Code § 266.007 [BP at Adversary Hearing]