Mathews' CPS hearing delayed
A Child Protective Services hearing for Wesley and Sini Mathews, the adoptive parents of deceased 3-year-old Sherin Mathews, has been delayed until Jan. 26.
The purpose of the hearing, which was supposed to take place Wednesday, is for custody of their biological 4-year-old daughter. CPS removed her from the Mathews' Richardson home on Oct. 7, the day her sister Sherin allegedly went missing.
Attorneys for both clients asked the judge for a delay so they could work on an agreement between both parties.
The request came a few hours after WFAA learned that "homicidal violence" was listed as the manner of death for Sherin Mathews.
Both parents remain in jail. Sini is charged with abandoning or endangering a child and Wesley is charged with injury to a child. Sherin's body was found in a culvert about a month after she disappeared.
The couple's biological child was in foster care for four weeks before the state determined she could live with family in the Houston area.
During the Mathews' last hearing on Dec. 5, the ruling by Judge Cheryl Lee Shannon opened the door for CPS to permanently take parental rights away from both parents.
The court found aggravated circumstances and denied the Mathews parents of seeing their biological child until a formal civil trial. This also meant that CPS did not have to provide any family reunification service, which is the process of returning the children in temporary out-of-home care to their families of origin.
Two outcomes are possible for the next CPS hearing:
1. Sini and Wesley could both voluntarily relinquish their parental rights.
2. The court could terminate their rights involuntarily during a formal civil trial.
Both outcomes have severe and long-lasting consequences. Following termination, the parent and child no longer share a legal relationship and this decision is irreversible once completed. Basically, the child is legally free to be adopted by someone else.
If the Texas Department of Family Protective Service pursues termination, it typically does so to both parents.
Only in rare cases, and after meeting with the attorney representing DFPS, may it decide to terminate one parent's rights and not the other -- due to the one parent being a danger to the health, safety and wellbeing of the child.
If the Mathews voluntarily terminate their rights, the court must hold a hearing and order termination of parental rights to the child based on the affidavit of voluntary relinquishment and a finding that the termination is in the child’s best interest.
If they do not voluntarily terminate their parental rights, DFPS may request the termination of parental rights. The caseworker will consider whether the parent presents a threat to the child’s safety and stability, whether adoption is in the child’s best interest, whether there are grounds for termination, and whether the case was mediated and an agreement could not be met.
The following are grounds for termination of parental rights according to DFPS’ handbook:
- Endangerment: The most common grounds for termination of parental rights are exposing a child to conduct or an environment that endangers the physical or emotional wellbeing of the child.
- Abandonment: Several factors can affect which, if any, grounds for abandonment may apply. Where the child was left, how long the parent is gone, what the parent said or didn’t say when leaving the child, etc.
- Failure to support a child.
- Criminal activity or imprisonment: Certain specific conduct that causes death or serious injury to a child and results in a criminal conviction or community supervision, including deferred adjudication, are grounds for termination.
CPS tells WFAA that if the judge sets a formal trial date because neither Sini or Wesley voluntarily relinquish their parental rights, it will likely be for the beginning of 2018.