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Terminating the Parental Rights of an Alleged Biological Father in a Texas CPS Case

As it sometimes happens in Texas Child Protective Services cases, the child involved will not have a legally established father. Clearly, the child鈥檚 biological father exists, yet the state parental registry does not list any man as such. Several factors could contribute to this, such as the absence of a signed Acknowledgment of Paternity. However, this omission holds significance in various legal cases. If you鈥檝e fathered a child but haven鈥檛 acknowledged paternity, today鈥檚 blog post discussed biological father rights.

If you claim to be a child鈥檚 biological father, actively respond to a lawsuit notice to maintain your parental rights. This involves providing evidence of your paternity through a valid test or filing a countersuit to assert your paternity.

Additionally, if your child is over one year old when someone files the petition for termination and you have not registered with the paternity registry, authorities can terminate your parental rights if they do not know your identity and location. Even if authorities know your identity but cannot find you, they may still terminate your parental rights. Making yourself known to the court or, at least, to the child鈥檚 mother would help you maintain your paternity rights.聽Hiding away and holding out hope that everything will work out, in the end, is not a good

Do you need to be personally served with notice of a pending lawsuit seeking to terminate your parental rights?

You do not need personal service of a citation to have your parental rights as an alleged biological father terminated. Nor must anyone actively seek you out to inform you about the ongoing lawsuit. Consequently, your parental rights could end without your knowledge. The Department of Family and Protective Services only needs to make a minimal effort to identify if the child has a known father.聽Once they fulfill this duty, a judge could easily terminate your rights.

This underscores the importance of being proactive in defending your and your child鈥檚 parental rights. If you suspect you are the biological father of a child, seek legal counsel promptly to establish your paternity officially.聽This will likely involve undergoing genetic testing and initiating legal action to confirm your status as the father.

What does it mean to make the best interest determination on behalf of a child?

The Texas Family Code lays out a list of factors that a judge should look to when attempting to determine what is in a child鈥檚 best interests. The child鈥檚 desires as to where he wants to live and with whom he wants to live are important, especially for older children. The safety and well-being of the home environment for the child is also critical to this analysis. Your parenting ability, the programs that are available to assist you in parenting your child, and your home鈥檚 stability are a few more factors for you to consider.

What presumptions will a court make regarding making conservatorship decisions?

Courts generally start with the basic presumption that appointing you as your child鈥檚 managing conservator is in the child鈥檚 best interest. This remains the case unless there is a belief that such an appointment would significantly harm the child鈥檚 physical health or emotional development. You will be appointed as the managing conservator unless these concerns arise.

However, this presumption does not apply if there is a history of family violence involving you and your child. The judge will look into any evidence of you having intentionally used abusive physical force against your child, your spouse, or the other parent within two years before the lawsuit started.

The state legislature, two sessions ago, established a law presuming that unsupervised visitation by a parent is not in the child鈥檚 best interest if there is evidence or a history of neglect, abuse, or family violence by that parent.

If Child Protective Services鈥 involvement leads to you not being named as the managing conservator, there is still a presumption that you should be appointed as the possessory conservator. In this role, you retain significant decision-making authority and visitation rights, although the child will not primarily live with you. But if evidence suggests it is not in the best interest of your child for you to be appointed as a possessory conservator, this appointment will not happen.

What must a judge consider before naming the Department of Family and Protective Services as a managing conservator of your child?

If the judge determines appointing you as your child鈥檚 primary conservator is not in the best interest of your child, the Department may receive permanent managing conservatorship. The court will decide whether to terminate your parental rights based on your case鈥檚 specific circumstances.

This is a somewhat rare step to take after a CPS case. Judges do not want to place a child into permanent custody of the state. It is much preferred that they return home to live with you or to go at least to live with a relative. However, it is appropriate to name the state as the permanent managing conservator of your child in some instances. Here are the factors that a judge will consider before deciding to do so.

First, the judge will consider if your child will reach 18 years old in no less than three years. Then, the judge will factor in whether your child, if 12 years or older, has stated a desire not to have your parental rights terminated and opposes adoption. Finally, the judge will weigh your child鈥檚 general needs and desires against the case鈥檚 other circumstances.

What additional responsibilities does a non-parent managing conservator have over a child?

If the Department of Family and Protective Services removes your child from your home and then a judge determines that it is in that child鈥檚 best interests to remain outside of your home permanently, the Department has additional responsibilities that it owes to your child.

For instance, if a judge appoints your mother (the child鈥檚 grandmother) as the managing conservator of your child in a lawsuit, the Department must explain to her the differences between this appointment and adopting your child. Specifically, they would inform your mother that:

鈥 Her appointment as the managing conservator grants her only those rights specified by the court order, not all rights and duties an adoptive parent would have.

鈥 You might still have the right to request visitation or petition the court to appoint you as the child鈥檚 managing conservator.

鈥 Her appointment as your child鈥檚 managing conservator does not make her and your child eligible for the same state benefits that an adoptive parent and child would receive.

What rights does a non-parent, permanent managing conservator of a child have?

However, as the permanent managing conservator of your child, your relative (in this example, your mother) would have many rights about making decisions for your child. A sampling of those rights would include:

The right to 鈥撀

-authorize your child to receive medical treatment, including immunizing the child

-obtain and maintain health insurance coverage for your child

-enroll your child in school or daycare

-authorize your child to be able to participate in extracurricular activities like sports through their school

What happens in a permanency hearing after a final order is issued?

When the State holds your child鈥檚 permanent managing conservatorship, the judge must periodically review the case. The purpose is to ensure that the child鈥檚 basic needs are being met in this arrangement. Finding your child a permanent place to reside would still be the goal for your child at this stage. The aim is to avoid having him or her remain in the Department鈥檚 permanent custody through their 18th birthday.

The judge must consistently assess your child鈥檚 status as long as they are under the department鈥檚 permanent managing conservatorship. This remains true regardless of whether your parental rights have been terminated. This review continues until the child either leaves the conservatorship through adoption or reaches the age of 18. Alternatively, it ends upon high school graduation, whichever occurs later.

This protocol responds to the State鈥檚 history of involvement with children under its care following CPS cases. Previously, when the Department served as the permanent managing conservator for a child under long-term care, it made little effort to continue working with the parents or to find a permanent home for the child outside foster care. Additionally, it seldom contacted relatives.

When a permanency hearing occurs after a final order is established

If the Department becomes your child鈥檚 permanent managing conservator and your parental rights remain intact, the court must hold a permanency hearing within six months after the final orders. If your parental rights have been terminated, the court must conduct the first permanency hearing within 90 days after issuing a final order. Subsequent hearings will occur every six months until a permanent managing conservator other than the State is identified.

More on permanency hearings after final orders will be discussed in tomorrow鈥檚 blog post.

We will continue to discuss this important topic in tomorrow鈥檚 blog post. Thank you for showing an interest in the subject of Child Protective Services cases in Texas.

If you have any questions about today鈥檚 blog post or need clarification on anything that we wrote about, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week where we can answer questions and address your problems directly with you.

Our attorneys and staff take a great deal of pride in working on behalf of our clients in family courts across southeast Texas. We believe that the superior results that we achieve for clients are directly related to the strength of our attorney-client relationships and the work that we put into each of our cases.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. What to Do When CPS Asks for a Drug Test in Texas
  2. CPS and how The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC can help
  3. Take control of your child鈥檚 CPS case by following these tips
  4. How to stand up for yourself during a Texas CPS case
  5. How to prevent a second CPS investigation after your first concludes
  6. Family Law Cases in Texas: The final stages of a CPS case
  7. When can CPS remove your child from your home in Texas and what can you do about it?
  8. What to do if you no longer like your CPS service plan?
  9. In what circumstances could your child end up living with your relative during a CPS case?
  10. What can a CPS investigation into your family mean now and in the future?
  11. What to do if your spouse is being investigated by CPS in Texas for abuse or neglect of your child?
  12. Can CPS photograph your house and request your child鈥檚 medical records in Texas?

Frequently Asked Questions 鈥 Father鈥檚 Rights in Texas

What rights does a father have if he is on the birth certificate in Texas?

If a father鈥檚 name is on the birth certificate in Texas, it indicates legal recognition of paternity, granting him certain rights such as custody, visitation, and the ability to make important decisions for the child.

Does a father have rights if he isn鈥檛 on the birth certificate in Texas?

Not being on the birth certificate doesn鈥檛 automatically negate a father鈥檚 rights. He can establish paternity through legal means to gain rights related to custody, visitation, and decision-making.

What rights does an unmarried father automatically have in Texas?

An unmarried father in Texas has the right to establish paternity, seek custody and visitation rights, and participate in decisions regarding the child鈥檚 well-being. However, legal steps may be needed to secure these rights.

How long does a father have to establish paternity in Texas?

In Texas, a father has until the child turns 4 years old to establish paternity. After this period, he may face challenges in asserting his rights.

Can a mother legally keep her child away from the father in Texas?

Unless there are court orders in place, neither parent has the unilateral right to deny access to the child. Both parents are generally entitled to access and involvement in the child鈥檚 life.

Does signing a birth certificate establish paternity in Texas?

Signing a birth certificate alone doesn鈥檛 establish legal paternity in Texas. While it is a step in the right direction, legal processes may still be necessary to fully establish paternity and associated rights.

How long does a father have to be absent to lose his rights in Texas?

In Texas, a father鈥檚 rights are not automatically lost due to absence. However, prolonged absence without contact or support can impact custody and visitation decisions in court.

When can you deny visitation to the non-custodial parent in Texas?

Denying visitation to the non-custodial parent is generally not advisable without a valid reason. Court orders must be followed, and visitation can only be denied if it鈥檚 proven to be detrimental to the child鈥檚 well-being.

What happens if you don鈥檛 put the father鈥檚 name on the birth certificate in Texas?

Leaving the father鈥檚 name off the birth certificate doesn鈥檛 extinguish the father鈥檚 rights. Legal steps can be taken to establish paternity and secure the associated rights for the father.

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