A Big Win for Texas Parents!
In a recent case last month, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that a fit parent’s opinion counts over non-parents.
Who is a Fit Parent?
Generally, a “fit” parent has no criminal record or family violence orders – anything that makes a parent’s character questionable.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but the facts were quite unique. (In Re C.J.C.).
A Rebuttable Presumption –
Facts: Mom wanted to modify custody orders. However, Mom died in a car accident while case was pending. Dad sought for sole custody. On the other hand, deceased Mom’s fiancee, who had lived with Mom and child for nearly 11 months sought custody (access and possession). Dad Objected.
Unfortunately for Dad, trial court awarded Fiancee Since then, Dad had remarried, assisted daughter with her homework, and was a fit parent. Mom’s fiancee (or ex-fiancee) intervened for access and possession. Dad objected. Trial court awarded Mom’s ex-fiancee partial custody (2 visitations per month -temporary order).
Dad filed a writ of mandamus, arguing that the trial court’s ruling violated his right as a parent.
Well, Dad was right.
The Texas Supreme Court ruled that:
“The question presented in this case is whether the presumption that fit parents act according to the best interest of their children applies when modifying an existing order that names a parent as the child’s managing conservator.” Overall, the Supreme Court said that a fit parent is presumed to have the best interest of the child.
In a nutshell, the Court said that although Texas doesn’t have a fit-parent presumption for custody hearings, the Court must apply this presumption when a non-parent is seeking modification.
In simple terms, you have to assume that a fit parent knows what is best for their child. Dad’s objection mattered!
So, next time you fight to change custody, talk to an attorney.