I first wrote about the case of a widower last summer. Later the same judge in this case was reversed in a similar case in which he had allowed non-grandparents to have custody of a child from a fit mother for four years under “temporary” orders. In that case he accepted testimony from a social worker who argued the mother should not regain her child “until she learned to share her with others.”
At a hearing in August 2010 before the judge to compel the widowed father to submit to a “psychological evaluation” and a “social study,” the judge was told the purpose of opponents’ motions was to knowingly multiply proceedings and expenses so as to delay and possibly prevent the return of his child.
The father underwent the evaluations and studies. Test results were within normal ranges. The social study consisted of an investigation that involved Tarrant County Family Court Services (TCFCS) personnel. This investigation was “invasive” and ongoing and inconclusive–which most believe is the point of the exercise: Vague, unscientific standards of study can produce “evidence” that can be used to achieve any political objective desired, such as overriding the fundamental rights of parents.
The father made and provided to opposing counsel (attorneys representing grandparents) approximately 20 hours of unedited contemporary telephone conversations between himself and his child that would satisfy (almost) anyone that the parent-child relationship is perfectly satisfactory (no allegations have ever been made of abuse, neglect, or unfitness).
In September 2010 the attorney for the father filed a motion requesting clarification from the court regarding the scope of the TCFCS inquiry. The purpose of this request was to limit the investigation to issues raised in the request for the evaluation rather than allowing a broad “fishing expedition” for anything that might be used against the father. The court has yet to rule on the motion despite appearances by all parties since the filing of the motion.
The father’s attorney filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus with Texas Supreme Court. Court found merit in the petition and ordered grandparents to respond. Weeks later the Texas Supreme Court dismissed the petition without comment. Attorneys cannot explain why.
In a November preliminary hearing before the judge on the motion to vacate the current illegal “temporary” orders (in place for almost three years) that have changed custody from the child’s only living parent to grandparents, the judge opened the hearing with a monologue in which he claimed that he had been trying hard to get the case heard and that the entire problem with the case was that he had been thwarted from hearing evidence by the father (this self-defensive presentation is easily refuted by the record). The father’s attorney then clearly explained to the court why the current “temporary” order conflicts with both the statute, as well as the case law regarding the statute.
Opposing counsel made no argument (there is none to make–the case is open and shut). The judge then (apparently coaching opposing counsel) surprised everyone present by asking if the father’s non-appearance at a hearing in July 2008 resulted in him waiving his parental rights, in spite of the presentation just made by father’s attorney. A fit parent does not lose or “waive” his parental rights because he was not present at a hearing!
In December the father’s attorney wrote opposing counsel asking if the father might take his child to see the new C.S. Lewis movie, “Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” His letter explains that the father and his child have enjoyed both the book and movie series of The Chronicles of Narnia for years and that he was willing to pay for a TCFCS social worker to attend the movie with them. Opposing counsel did not respond. A week or so later the attorney again wrote opposing counsel about this matter. Opposing counsel responded that grandparents had just taken the child to see the movie . . . so they declined his request.
Later in December the grandparents unilaterally canceled the court-ordered Christmas “visit” with the father at TCFCS so they could take the child to a church camp. When the father’s attorney wrote to opposing counsel about this action, the grandparents’ attorneys responded that TCFCS personnel had known that grandparents were going to do this weeks before it happened. TCFCS personnel say that it isn’t true, that they have documents to prove it isn’t true, but that “attorneys do this all the time.”
The father’s attorney then sought to set a court date for the final hearing on the motion to vacate the current illegal “temporary” orders for January and was told by the judge that no date in January was available. The same response was made regarding a request for February, but a date was finally set for March 7, 2011.
Like the God-given, fundamental right to practice one’s faith, parenting is a God-given, fundamental right that is (supposed to be) protected from state interference unless probable cause is found to show that a parent is abusing or neglecting his child. NO SUCH ALLEGATIONS HAVE EVER BEEN MADE IN THIS CASE–STILL LESS HAS A SHRED OF EVIDENCE OF ABUSE OR NEGLECT EVER EVEN BEEN PRESENTED (because there isn’t any–everyone knows that the father is a fit parent).
This case is about the power of the state/government to rule where it isn’t allowed to operate except in special circumstances: The Home. Because this father has stood up for that seemingly obvious principle for years, the interests that profit from breaching the bright line that protects the home from the state/government are attempting to make an example of him. Please continue to pray for the father, his child and this case. Please pray for his attorneys to have wisdom in representing him and for the judge to release the child to her father. Please continue to pray that THSC will be able to raise the necessary funds to help this father.