Ongoing Battle to Restore Parental Rights in Texas

Two weeks ago I had a great time at the THSC State Convention and Family Conference in The Woodlands, Texas. I talked with a couple of folks at the conference who reminded me that THSC had intervened on their behalf in situations with government officials who threatened their right to home school. Both of them told me, “I never thought something like that would happen to me.” There are hundreds of stories of home schooling parents in Texas whose parental rights are challenged and they all thought the same thing.

In the ongoing battle to restore parental rights in Texas, we have intervened on behalf of a member of our association in a grandparent access case. This father never thought he would be in this situation either. However, after his wife’s death her parents sued him under the grandparent access statute, and under “temporary” orders from a district court his daughter was placed with the grandparents; he has not seen her in over two years.

In an affidavit, one of the former co-petitioners in the case revealed that the attorneys for the grandparents told them that the case was very weak but they had a chance to win if they were willing to “outspend the father.” They explained that in cases where one side had more money than the other the facts were irrelevant as a practical matter. Their strategy was to force the father to exhaust his resources and thus allow the grandparents to gain permanent custody of their granddaughter.

THSC has retained attorneys to represent this father in what could be a very expensive fight to sustain his parental rights. One reason we have done so is that case law needs to be established in these kinds of cases in which many judges allow non-parents to have the same rights and standing as parents – this must not be allowed to stand. We have been told that the cost for this case could be over $100,000 and we will need help from the home school community to meet this need. Please pray for this father and his daughter and for all of those involved in this case that justice would be done quickly.

Comments

  1. timthsc says

    Folks who want to support his effort can send contributions to THSC Association designated for the "Litigation Fund." Those contributions are NOT tax deductible, however.

  2. Anonymous says

    You are being dishonest. I know this case. It is not a husband, but the ex-husband whose wife died. The mother had full custody. The father didn't see the child by HIS choice. He broke the law and kidnapped the child. The courts then said he had to have supervised visits which he refused to do. Have you thought about what was best for the child?! Are you overlooking the well being of a child in your eagerness to achieve your political agenda?

  3. timthsc says

    I think its interesting that people hide behind anonymity to make allegations.

    We are not being dishonest. The father's wife and he were divorced and shared JOINT custody of the daughter. After her death he was the sole managing conservator and moved out of state as he had a right to do.

    He did violate a court order by missing 9 days of court ordered visitation with the grandparents and rather than wait for the scheduled hearing (in which they would have been given 9 days of make-up visitation) the grandparents asked for a hearing four days earlier knowing that the father could not be there.

    As expressed in closing arguments by the father's attorneys the judge allowed the grandparents to abuse the legal system to gain custody of their granddaughter knowing the father would not have an opportunity to make his case for almost two years.

    The judge with no basis denied the father visitation with his daughter and later limited that to one hour every other week if the father agreed to do so with at the CPS center under the "observation" of a case worker.

    Interestingly, the husband of the wife when she died was a witness for the father in this trial and explained how the grandparents had conspired to abuse the legal system to take the father's daughter from him.

    Your suggestion that a judge should be allowed to determine "what is in the best interest of a child" when that parent is fit shows that you have a very low view of the fundamental constitutional right of parents to direct the care, control and upbringing of their children. Apparently the judge in this case shares your opinion, which is why this case went to a jury. They agreed with the father and ruled that his daughter should be returned to him.

    See the synopsis of this case and the closing arguments here:

    http://www.thscpac.org/2011/08/final-arguments-in-parental-rights/

  4. C. Patience Summers says

    Regardless of the circumstances, he is her father and they are only the grandparents. A child needs their BIOLOGICAL parents, not grandparents. There is an ever rising group of (usually abusive and Munchhausen-Syndrome-ridden) grandparents who attempt to take control of their children's children when they were bad parents to begin with. It's as if they want a second chance and just kidnap their grandkids.

  5. Leslie Kent says

    I feel obligated to present the 'other side.'
    I know the grandparents, and their devoted church community, believers all, praying that their dear granddaughter would be able to STAY with her grandparents, as SHE wanted. Not that the courts should necessarily follow the wishes of a child . . . but that was "Mary's" wish, to stay in the safe place her grandparents provided.

    Bio dad had been abusive and alcoholic. "Mary" was afraid of him. Since she was present for the abuse and chaos in her home, that was not an invention, tactic, or legal maneuvering by the grandparents. They weren't in the home; "Mary" was.

    Stating "the judge with no basis" made a ruling is erroneous. If he was aware of "Mary's" fear of dad and his history, he had a very good basis.

    Repeating the closing arguments of the attorney doesn't make his arguments factual. I am surprised at the logical sloppiness of this assertion. If THSC agrees with his argument, say so. But it remains opinion. It would be wise for THSC and others to take a logical approach to this situation: actions and words can be measured and recorded. Another person's thoughts, feelings, or motives cannot be
    asserted as fact by another. Ad hominem attack, anyone?

    Your insistence on describing the judge as having "no basis" in various decisions is curious. How would you know? In this trial, the jury was not allowed to hear about the father's behavior prior to the last two years. They ruled 11-1 without having the full history. There is a reason "Mary" has expressed desire not to be with dad.

    I understand that the courts don't always get it right. I don't have much confidence in family court at all. Most of these cases have NO business being in the court system. The grandparents are believers. I assume THSC considers bio dad to be a believer. Why, then, was he not working WITH her grandparents to do what was best for "Mary"? Court-ordered mediation would have been the Biblical and sensible approach to this case. And remember: these are grieving grandparents, who lost their daughter to illness, and now . . .THSC has assisted in pulling their daughter's only daughter away from them as well.

    Really: you want us to contribute to your efforts in making this a case with a 'winner' and a 'loser'? I think not. But I will continue to pray for "Mary," yanked from her home, church community, and youth group (where my son knew her) and for the grandparents who have been there for her every single day.

    Remember: there is a reason, there is a reason, there is a reason she did not want to go to 'dad.' You don't know the full story.

  6. timthsc says

    Leslie,

    The grandparents as we have described have actively alienated the daughter from her father over the last three years by refusing to allow her to talk to him on the phone and receive his letters and speaking to her about their negative views of her father.

    Had the grandparents had evidence of abuse by the father they would have brought that to the court prior to the taking of the daughter by the judge under temporary orders three years ago. The fact is that this father is a fit father and was the sole managing conservator of his only child. She was taken him by a judge for missing 9 days of court ordered grandparent visitation…for three years.

    While we might agree with you that these situations should not be in the courts, the grandparents have aggressively pursued court actions to obtain custody of their granddaughter from the fit father.

    A fit parent should be the one to decide what is "best" for a child and in this and many other cases grandparents go to court because they disagree with the fit parents on what is "best" for the child. Parents not grandparents have a fundamental, constitutional right to direct the care, control and upbringing of their children.

    Remember, this child was taken from her father as a ten year-old three years ago with no allegations of abuse or lack of fitness by the grandparents. I think it is very telling that the husband of the deceased daughter of these grandparents who was initially a party to their suit against the father, was a witness FOR the father at the trial because he believed that the grandparents were wrong in what they were doing to this family.

    The jury agreed with him.

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