This week the Texas Parental Rights Restoration Act (TPRRA) was filed in the Texas Senate (SB 1194) and in the Texas House (HB 2547). As we have discussed many times over the last several years, these bills will seek to end the lawsuit abuse of fit single parents who are the targets of lawsuits by grandparents who sue because they disagree with legitimate decisions made by parents.
Texas courts are hearing more and more of these cases, and all too often good single parents are reduced to bankruptcy in their attempt to maintain possession of their own children against the resources of affluent grandparents, who seek to use the grandparent access statute as a weapon to force these single parents to submit to what the grandparents, rather than the parents, believe is best for the child.
In some cases the parent loses possession of the child for years under “temporary” court orders while the grandparent uses legal actions to draw out the process for years. Good single parents should not lose their parental rights simply because they have less money than grandparents.
While we are encouraged with the filing of these bills and hope to build on the progress we made in the last session on this issue, legislation has also been filed by supporters of the Texas Family Law Foundation, which represents family law attorneys in Texas, that would expand the scope of such lawsuits. While the current law allows grandparents to sue a custodial parent if their child is deceased, divorced, or incarcerated, these bills (HB 391 & SB 1148) would allow grandparents to sue any parent, even intact families. The measures would also lower the standard even further of what is required in order to violate the fundamental, constitutional right of parents to direct the care, control, and upbringing of their children.
In the coming weeks we will be preparing for hearings to support the TPRRA and to oppose the Texas Family Law Foundation’s bills that are intended to further erode parental rights in Texas. Critical to both of these efforts is having witnesses who are able and willing to testify regarding how such lawsuits have impacted their families. Please contact us if you or someone you know has had such an experience and are willing to give testimony in writing or in person. We will continue to update you as this situation develops. Thank you for your prayers and support.