- October 16, 2019—Supreme Court of Texas Takes Action in Parental Rights Case
- October 9, 2019—Drake Is One Step Closer to Home
- October 2, 2019—Supreme Court of Texas Reviews a Second Abuse of Family Rights
Supreme Court of Texas Takes Action in Parental Rights Case
A few weeks ago I wrote about another very important case regarding parental rights at the Supreme Court of Texas.
In this case, a district court gave joint custody of a young girl to a man who was not in any way related to her. The court did this over the objections of the biological father. THSC and the Texas Public Policy Foundation filed “friend of the court” briefs in support of the father’s constitutional right to raise his daughter.
The Supreme Court of Texas has responded by asking the parties for a full briefing on the case and issuing an emergency stay to the lower court. An emergency stay temporarily invalidates the lower court’s grant of joint custody and possession, at least until the Supreme Court of Texas has time to make a final ruling.
Why does that matter?
This response by the Supreme Court of Texas is a sign that the court sees this case as important. The court has set new deadlines for all briefs to be submitted by early December.
This case shows the critical nature of the God-given right of parents to raise their children as they see fit. In what world is it acceptable for a non-parent to walk into an existing father-daughter relationship and obtain custody of that daughter over the objections of an entirely fit father?
Please continue to pray for the father in this case, who is battling to maintain the ability to raise his daughter without the interference of a non-relative. The results of this case could impact many Texas families.
Drake Is One Step Closer to Home
I spent five hours on October 4 with the Pardos in a Kaufman County courtroom as their attorney Chris Branson made the case for removing Drake from foster care and placing him with a friend of the family. Once again, Child Protective Services’ (CPS) opposition and rationale were shocking. News reports also covered the hearing.
According to testimony, CPS policy and procedures require that a home study for possible placement of a child with someone other than foster care be completed during the investigation stage which, in this case, was in June. During the hearing on Aug. 9, CPS said the study would take six to eight weeks and the judge ordered them to expedite the study in two weeks. They agreed.
By the end of September, CPS had still not finished the home study. Branson filed a motion to force CPS to do so and to sanction CPS for not following the court’s order. Within a few hours of his filing, CPS had produced the report. CPS says that was just a coincidence.
In the Oct. 4 hearing, the psychologist hired by CPS to conduct a psychological evaluation of four-year-old Drake admitted under oath that she had amended her report at the request of CPS. Further, she opposed Drake’s being removed from foster care on the basis of how Drake responded to a question in the evaluation. When asked why he was not with his family, he stated, “No tubes, no wheelchairs,” and “the judge doesn’t like that.” The psychologist acknowledged that Drake was merely repeating information that he had been told from the foster parent or CPS.
Ultimately, the judge ruled it was in Drake’s best interest to be placed with a friend of the family who had been his physical therapist for over a year before CPS took him. However, the judge declined to sanction CPS. Drake will be placed with the friend of the family by the time you read this. This is a victory for Drake and his family and we are one step closer to Bringing Drake Home.
Please continue to pray for the family, judges, attorneys, and all involved in this case.
October 2, 2019
Supreme Court of Texas Reviews a Second Abuse of Family Rights
Another case before the Supreme Court of Texas highlights the attack upon the God-given, fundamental, constitutional right of parents to direct the care, custody and control of their children.
THSC worked with the Texas attorney general’s office this past spring to issue a legal opinion supporting the right of fit parents to make decisions for their children.
That opinion has been cited extensively in a case currently before the Supreme Court of Texas. In the case of In re C.J.C., a lower court judge granted joint custody of a four-year-old child to a non-relative over the objections of the child’s father.
The mother and father in the case had been previously divorced and shared custody of the daughter. In July 2018, the mother was tragically killed in a car accident, at which point the little girl went to live with her father full time.
Not long after the mother’s death, the child’s grandparents filed for joint custody—against the wishes of the father. Ultimately, the grandparents’ custody suit was dismissed.
After the court denied the grandparents’ custody request, the mother’s live-in fiance, whom the mother had become engaged to a couple months before her tragic death, filed a lawsuit to obtain joint custody.
The fiance and mother had lived together for 11 months. Approximately half of that time, the daughter also lived with them. The fiance argues that because he lived with the daughter for approximately six months that he developed an emotional bond that entitles him to joint custody over the objections of the daughter’s actual father.
It is especially noteworthy that all parties in the case agree that the father is an entirely fit father who takes good care of his daughter.
Shockingly, the district court judge not only awarded joint custody to the non-relative fiance—a virtual stranger to the child—she went even further by stating that the little girl could spend nearly unlimited time with her maternal grandparents during J.D.’s (the father’s) periods of possession (the same access that the grandparents were previously denied in their own lawsuit).
This non-relative now has joint custody of the daughter, shared responsibility for making certain educational decisions, medical decisions and more. The father has expended more than $170,000 defending his right to raise his own daughter.
Like the Pardo case, this case centers around the fundamental right of parents to raise their own children. Both cases are currently pending before the Supreme Court of Texas.
THSC has filed an amicus brief in support of the father in this case. This situation is yet another example that highlights the need for legislative reform to protect Texas families from abuse in court.