SAN ANGELO, Texas Parents from the FLDS Church's YFZ Ranch could begin picking up their children as early as this weekend under a deal being hammered out right now in court.
A proposed order to return the children is still being discussed in a hearing that's lasted several hours with dozens of attorneys trying to make argument and objections before the same judge that ordered the children removed in the first place.
"The bulk of those returns will probably happen next week," said attorney Rod Parker, a spokesman for the Fundamentalist LDS Church.
"The parents will be picking up their children. That's the way the parents want it and I think that's the way CPS wants it."
More than 400 children have been scattered in foster care facilities all over Texas since last month's raid on the ranch.
After attorneys spent time this afternoon discussing a proposed agreement from Child Protective Services, Judge Barbara Walther offered her own solution and asked CPS attorneys and attorneys for the parents and children to review it.
The judge said she wanted to include in her proposal provisions from the Texas Family Code to spell out what exactly CPS can and cannot do.
Walther's agreement includes defining what a household means, providing notice about destinations to which any children will be traveling and prohibiting them from leaving the state of Texas. If children are to travel more than 60 miles within Texas, CPS must be given 48 hours notice.
The agreement allows CPS workers to have access to the YFZ Ranch at any and all times, be able to interview and examine the children, or transport them for interviews, with parental notice.
Guy Choate, an attorney acting as spokesman for the court, said Walther intended to sign the proposal this afternoon.
Walther is working on the agreement after the Texas Supreme Court Thursday upheld an appellate court's decision ordering the judge to vacate her order that placed all of the children from the ranch into state protective custody.
The proposed agreement applies to approximately 139 children belonging to 41 mothers, but Walther said in court she expects the list will be expanded.
"The court thinks this ruling would be the same for each and every child," she said.