C. Monitored Return

At any stage of the case, the court may order a monitored return of the child to a parent with DFPS remaining as temporary managing conservator. The monitored return cannot be for more than 180 days, but may be ordered without regard to the other deadlines.

1. Findings and Orders Required for a Monitored Return

The court may retain jurisdiction and not dismiss the suit if the court renders a temporary order that:

•   Finds that retaining jurisdiction is in the best interest of the child;

•   Orders DFPS to return the child to the child’s parent; or

•   Transition the child, according to a schedule determined by DFPS or the court from substitute care to the parent while the parent completes the remaining requirements imposed under a service plan and specified in the temporary order that are necessary for the child’s return;

•   Orders DFPS to continue to serve as temporary managing conservator of the child; and

•   Orders DFPS to monitor the child’s placement to ensure that the child is in a safe environment. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.403(a).

Unless the court has already granted an extension under Tex. Fam. Code § 263.401(b), DFPS or the parent may request an additional six months to complete the remaining requirements in a service plan and specified in the temporary order that are mandatory for the child’s return. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.403(a-1). If the court has already granted a six-month extension based on extraordinary circumstances under Section 263.401(b), the extension offered under Section 263.403(a-1) is not available.

If the court renders an order under Tex. Fam. Code § 263.403, the court shall:

•   Include in the order specific findings regarding the grounds for the order; and

•   Schedule a new date, not later than the 180th day after the date the temporary order is rendered, for dismissal of the suit unless a trial on the merits has commenced. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.403(b).

2. Failed Monitored Return

If before the dismissal of the suit or the commencement of the trial on the merits a child placed with a parent under Section 263.403 must be moved from that home or the court renders a temporary order terminating the transition order issued under Tex. Fam. Code §263.403(a)(2)(B), the court shall, at the time of the move or order, schedule a new date for dismissal of the suit. The new dismissal date may not be later than the original dismissal date established under Tex. Fam. Code § 263.401 or the 180th day after the date the child is moved or the order is rendered under Tex. Fam. Code § 263.403(c), whichever date is later. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.403(c).

If the court renders an order, the court must include in the order specific findings regarding the grounds for the order. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.403(d); In re J.W.M., 153 S.W.3d 541, 545 (Tex. App.—Amarillo 2004, pet. denied); In re Neal, 4 S.W.3d 443 (Tex. App.—Houston [1 Dist.] 1999, orig. proceeding).