Constitutional Rights of Parents in McAllen, Texas
This will give you a brief look at the law concerning Constitutional Rights of Parents
Parental Constitutional RightsBecause grandparents and other relatives undertake duties of a parental nature in many households, States have sought to ensure the welfare of the children therein by protecting the relationships those children form with such third parties. The States' nonparental visitation statutes are further supported by a recognition, which varies from State to State, that children should have the opportunity to benefit from relationships with statutorily specified persons — for example, their grandparents.
Troxel v. Granville is THE case detailing parental rights vis-à-vis grandparent access. In Troxel v. Granville, the United States Supreme Court was confronted with a petition to obtain visitation rights filed by the grandparents of two minor children pursuant to a Washington state visitation statute. The Washington statute provided that "[any person may petition the court for visitation rights at any time, including but not limited to, custody proceedings. The Washington statute allowed a court to order visitation rights for any person when the court deemed the visitation may serve the best interests of the child. The United States Supreme Court said this kind of unfettered access into the fundamental rights of parents to raise their children was unconstitutional and impermissible.
To start with, the substantive component of the Due Process clause protects against government interference with certain fundamental rights and liberty interests. Troxell held that the liberty interest that parents have in the "care, custody and control of their children" is "perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized” by the United States Supreme Court. Regarding this right of parents, the court held that “there is a presumption that fit parents act in the best interests of their children” Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 68 (2000). This presumption that fit parents act in the best interests of their children is at the very core of the Troxel holding.
Troxel did not say that there was never a circumstance where the parent/child relationship could be judicially interfered with. Rather, the Court emphasized that the Washington statute at issue was “breathtakingly broad,” permitting “any third party seeking visitation to subject any decision by a parent concerning visitation of the parent’s children” to court review. The Court rightfully found the statute accorded no weight to a parent’s decision that visitation would not be in the children’s best interest (fit parents are presumed to act in the best interest of their children). The statute allowed a judge to simply “disregard and overturn any decision by a fit custodial parent concerning visitation whenever a third party affected by the decision files a visitation petition, based solely on the judge’s determination of the child’s best interests.” The Troxel court wanted to make clear that the parental rights and parental decisions are to be flippantly disregarded. The Court held “the constitutionality of any standard for awarding visitation turns on the specific manner in which that standard is applied and that the constitutional protections in this area are best ‘elaborated with care.”
When Can Someone Sue for Access to your Child?The Texas Legislature and courts have given a heavy deference to the Troxel opinion, placing protections on parental rights that are more stringent than is required by the Troxel opinion in some situations The Texas Supreme Court has also articulated that the trial court must presume that a fit parent acts in his or her child’s best interest when considering the rights of a third party against a parent’s rights. In Re Derzapf, 219 S.W.3d 327, 333(Tex. 2007).
The Texas legislature has crafted a very narrow set of categories of non-parents who have standing to seek court intervention into the parent child relationship. Outside of those defined categories, there is not ability for a non-parent to interfere.
For instance, the concept of de facto parenthood has been widely adopted in various iterations across the country. Under common law, a person in loco parentis to a child had the same rights, duties, and liabilities as the child's parents. Texas courts have never applied the common law doctrine of in loco parentis to grant custodial or visitation rights to a non-parent, against the parent's wishes, when the parent maintains actual custody of the child. The phrase in loco parentis means "in the place of a parent" and "refers to a relationship a person assumes toward a child not his or her own. That is where the third party standing rules come into play. These common law ideas have been folded into the statutory framework established by the legislature.
Finally, the psychological parent doctrine is not recognized in Texas as a basis for standing in a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship. It is recognized in multiple other states as a means to assert standing. To demonstrate the existence of the petitioner's parent-like relationship with the child, the petitioner must prove four elements: (1) that the biological or adoptive parent consented to, and fostered, the petitioner's formation and establishment of a parent-like relationship with the child; (2) that the petitioner and the child lived together in the same household; (3) that the petitioner assumed obligations of parenthood by taking significant responsibility for the child's care, education and development, including contributing towards the child's support, without expectation of financial compensation; and (4) that the petitioner has been in a parental role for a length of time sufficient to have established with the child a bonded, dependent relationship parental in nature. In re Custody of H.S.H.-K, 193 Wis. 2d 649 (Wis. 1995). But in looking at the requirements of the psychological parent, they are not very different from Texas’ statutory framework governing third parties seeking custody or visitation with children.
If you or a loved on have questions about grandparent visitation, step-parent access or any non-parent seeking access to a child, call me today for a free consultation at 956-501-6565.