April 24, 2019
We recently had a hearing in the Texas House Juvenile Justice and Family Issues Committee on Rep. Jeff Leach’s House Bill 2756, the Family Unity Act.
There is nearly 100 years of case law from the Texas Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court stating that when a fit parent is involved in a case with a non-parent (such as CPS, in-laws, etc.) the court should presume that the parent’s decision for his or her child is in the best interest of that child. While this is settled case law, the Texas Family Code does not currently reflect these rules.
At the end of February 2019, the Texas attorney general issued an opinion that was essentially an eight-page treatise on the constitutional right of parents to raise their children. House Bill 2756 matches both the attorney general opinion and the case law. In other words, this legislation simply codifies the case law into the Texas Family Code.
THSC’s Jeremy Newman testified that records from the Texas appeals court cases since the year 2000 show that these cases disproportionately affect single moms who may lack the financial resources to defend themselves.
Forty percent of all family law cases in Texas involve a litigant who does not have an attorney and is therefore representing him or herself. Without the constitutional rules clearly outlined in the law, these parents may have little hope of defending their rights in court.
We believe that many judges and attorneys in Texas are unfamiliar with the case law and most judges believe it is always their responsibility to decide what is in the best interest of the child, even when when a fit parent is involved.
One group testified in opposition to the bill, saying that Child Protective Services (CPS) should be exempt from the bill. It was unclear how they justified exempting CPS from constitutional rules.
A group of children’s attorneys sent out an email warning that the bill created a dangerous presumption that parents are fit parents.
It would seem we live in a society where many people fundamentally disagree with the notion that parents are qualified to raise their own children.
Such opposition to simply putting already-settled case law into the Texas Family Code confirms what we have long seen. There is an anti-parent mentality in much of the Texas Family Law.
Please pray that the Family Unity Act will pass out of committee and be passed into law to protect the families and children of Texas. Text “TXHOMESCHOOL” now to 919191 to receive legislative alerts!