Parental Rights In Texas
While many people assume parental rights remain in place forever, the truth is that Texas does allow parental rights to be terminated in some cases. Certain parties such as unwed fathers and grandparents can also struggle to exercise their rights to simply visit children or grandchildren.
Terminating the rights of a parent is not an easy process, as courts are typically required to find numerous factors apply by clear and convincing evidence, which Texas Family Code § 101.007 defines as “the measure or degree of proof that will produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or conviction as to the truth of the allegations sought to be established.” This can be a difficult burden for many people to satisfy.
“At The Sparrow Law Firm, PLLC, we recognize that
each case is uniquely different.”
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If you need help gaining parental rights or terminating the parental rights of another, it will be important for you to make sure that you have skilled legal representation when you appear in court. The Sparrow Law Firm, PLLC, has experience handling these types of cases and knows what is necessary to get your motion approved.
You will want to call 281-973-0431 or contact our firm online as soon as you can so you can set up a free initial consultation that will allow us to examine your case and begin taking the first steps for you. Having a lawyer on your side will dramatically increase your chances of success in court proceedings.
Fathers’ Rights In Texas
Fathers’ rights Under the Uniform Parentage Act in Texas Family Code § 160.204, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if:
- he is married to the mother of the child and the child is born during the marriage;
- he is married to the mother of the child and the child is born before the 301st day after the date the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce;
- he married the mother of the child before the birth of the child in apparent compliance with the law, even if the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child is born during the invalid marriage or before the 301st day after the date the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce;
- he married the mother of the child after the birth of the child in apparent compliance with the law, regardless of whether the marriage is or could be declared invalid, he voluntarily asserted his paternity of the child, and the assertion is in a record filed with the vital statistics unit; he is voluntarily named as the child’s father on the child’s birth certificate, or he promised in a record to support the child as his own; or
- during the first two years of the child’s life, he continuously resided in the household in which the child resided and he represented to others that the child was his own.
A presumption of paternity established under this section can only be rebutted by adjudication under Subchapter G or the filing of a valid denial of paternity by a presumed father in conjunction with the filing by another person of a valid acknowledgment of paternity as provided by Section Texas Family Code § 160.305.
Texas Family Code § 151.001 further provides that the parent of a child has the following rights and duties:
- the right to have physical possession, to direct the moral and religious training, and to designate the residence of the child;
- the duty of care, control, protection, and reasonable discipline of the child;
- the duty to support the child, including providing the child with clothing, food, shelter, medical and dental care, and education;
- the duty, except when a guardian of the child’s estate has been appointed, to manage the estate of the child, including the right as an agent of the child to act in relation to the child’s estate if the child’s action is required by a state, the United States, or a foreign government;
- except as provided by Texas Family Code § 264.0111, the right to the services and earnings of the child;
- the right to consent to the child’s marriage, enlistment in the armed forces of the United States, medical and dental care, and psychiatric, psychological, and surgical treatment;
- the right to represent the child in legal action and to make other decisions of substantial legal significance concerning the child;
- the right to receive and give receipt for payments for the support of the child and to hold or disburse funds for the benefit of the child;
- the right to inherit from and through the child;
- the right to make decisions concerning the child’s education; and
- any other right or duty existing between a parent and child by virtue of law.
Grandparents can file suit requesting custody when they believe it is in the child’s best interest. A court in Texas can authorize grandparent visitation of a grandchild if visitation is in the child’s best interest, and one of the following circumstances exists:
- The parents divorced;
- The parent abused or neglected the child;
- The parent has been incarcerated, found incompetent, or died;
- A court-order terminated the parent-child relationship; or
- The child has lived with the grandparent for at least six months.
Grandparents do not have an absolute right to visitation, and they cannot request visitation if a grandchild has been adopted by someone other than the child’s stepparent.
Termination Of The Parent-Child Relationship
Termination of parental rights may be involuntary or voluntary. Voluntary relinquishment involves one parent voluntarily giving up their rights to the child while involuntary is when a parent seeks to have the rights of another parent terminated, often against their will.
When it comes to voluntary termination of parental rights, Texas Family Code § 161.103(a) establishes that an affidavit for voluntary relinquishment of parental rights must be signed after the birth of the child, but not before 48 hours after the birth of the child, by the parent, whether or not a minor, whose parental rights are to be relinquished; witnessed by two credible persons, and verified before a person authorized to take oaths. The affidavit is required to contain:
- the name, county of residence, and age of the parent whose parental rights are being relinquished;
- the name, age, and birth date of the child;
- the names and addresses of the guardians of the person and estate of the child, if any;
- a statement that the affiant is or is not presently obligated by court order to make payments for the support of the child;
- a full description and statement of value of all property owned or possessed by the child;
- an allegation that termination of the parent-child relationship is in the best interest of the child;
- one of the following, as applicable: the name and county of residence of the other parent; a statement that the parental rights of the other parent have been terminated by death or court order; or a statement that the child has no presumed father;
- a statement that the parent has been informed of parental rights and duties;
- a statement that the relinquishment is revocable, that the relinquishment is irrevocable, or that the relinquishment is irrevocable for a stated period of time;
- if the relinquishment is revocable, a statement in boldfaced type concerning the right of the parent signing the affidavit to revoke the relinquishment only if the revocation is made before the 11th day after the date the affidavit is executed;
- if the relinquishment is revocable, the name and address of a person to whom the revocation is to be delivered; and
- the designation of a prospective adoptive parent, the Department of Family and Protective Services, if the department has consented in writing to the designation, or a licensed child-placing agency to serve as managing conservator of the child and the address of the person or agency.
The Texas Family Code has numerous statutes covering involuntary termination of parental rights, and these different scenarios include:
- Involuntary Termination Of Parent-child Relationship, Texas Family Code § 161.001
- Termination Of The Rights Of An Alleged Biological Father, Texas Family Code § 161.002
- Involuntary Termination: Inability To Care For Child, Texas Family Code § 161.003
- Termination Of Parental Rights After Denial Of Prior Petition To Terminate, Texas Family Code § 161.004
- Termination When Parent Is Petitioner, Texas Family Code § 161.005
- Termination After Abortion, Texas Family Code § 161.006
- Termination When Pregnancy Results From Criminal Act, Texas Family Code § 161.007
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Ikaha M. Sparrow
Texas Parental Rights Resources
Holley v. Adams, 544 S.W.2d 367 (Tex. 1976) – David Adams instituted this suit for termination of the parent-child relationship between his former wife, Nanci Adams Holley, and their son. The trial court ordered termination under Texas Family Code § 15.02 on the grounds that Nanci Holley had failed to support her child, that her conduct endangered the emotional well-being of the child, and that the termination of the parent-child relationship was in the best interest of the child. The court of civil appeals affirmed, but the Supreme Court of Texas reversed and rendered judgment denying termination of the parent-child relationship. This case is famous for establishing factors courts should use in determining the best interests of the child, more commonly known as the “Holley Factors,” which are:
- The desires of the child
- The emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future
- The emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the future
- The parental abilities of the individuals seeking custody
- The programs available to assist these individuals to promote the best interest of the child
- The plans for the child by these individuals or by the agency seeking custody
- The stability of the home or proposed placement
- The acts or omissions of the parent may indicate that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one
- Any excuse for the acts or omissions of a parent
Using the Holley factors in child custody cases. – State Bar of Texas – View an article discussing how the Holley Factors are used in child custody cases. As the article notes, “Many Texas courts have held that the Holley factors should also be applied in ordinary child custody matters in addition to those involving termination.” The article presents potential questions for children who are infants (birth to 18 months), toddlers (18 months to 5 years), early elementary school-aged children (5 to 7 years), older elementary school-aged children (8 to 10 years), middle school-aged children (11 to 13 years), and adolescent or high school-aged children (14 to 18 years).
Contact A Parental Rights Lawyer In Houston Today
Are you attempting to exercise your parental rights or do you need help terminating the rights of another parent? You are going to want to be sure that you speak with The Sparrow Law Firm, PLLC, so you can be sure your case is handled the right way.
Our firm can analyze your case when you call 281-973-0431 or contact us online today. We understand the great challenges involved in proving what is necessary to terminate parental rights, and The Sparrow Law Firm, PLLC, will be committed to getting you the most favorable results.