Can a parent lose custody of their children if they use meth?

Usually, it is in the best interest of a child to live with their parent. This is not always the case though, and there are times that a court may need to terminate the rights of a parent. The court will terminate a parent-child relationship if it finds it to be in the best interest of the child and if the parent committed one or more of the statutory acts set out in Texas Family Code 161.001. Abuse and neglect will not always be the only reasons that a parent’s rights have been terminated. Instead, each case that is brought before the court will be determined on a fact based analysis considered by several factors.

How does the court determine the best interest of the child?

In 1976 the court came up with several factors that determine the best interest of the child in Holley v. Adams, and are now termed the Holley factors. These factors include 1) the desires of the child; 2) the emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future; 3) the emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the future; 4) the parental abilities of the person seeking custody; 5) the programs available to assist the person seeking custody in promoting the best interest of the child; 6) plans for the child by the person seeking custody; 7) the stability of the home or proposed placement; 8) the acts or omissions of the parent that may indicate the parent-child relationship is not a proper one; and 9) any excuse for the acts or omissions of the parent. Not all of the factors listed above will apply to each case brought before the court. The court will use the factors on a case-by-case basis to decide if termination of the parent’s rights is in the child’s best interest.

How does the court apply the Holley factors?

In the Fifth District Court of Appeals case, In the Interest of F.A.B., the court terminated a mother’s parental rights who had been arrested several times for methamphetamines. The court used both the statutory factors listed out in 161.001 and the Holley factors in making its decision. Below is how the court used several Holley factors to terminate the mother’s parental rights.

The court analyzed Holley factor number one, the desire of the child. The child stated several times the want to live with the foster mother rather than the mother of the child. The child had been taken from the mother and was put with a foster mother when the mother was arrested for meth. The mother followed the court’s orders and the child was given back to her. During the time that the child was back with the mother, the child grieved the separation from the foster mother. The counselor testified that the child had feared being taken from the foster mother. The child’s desires weighed in favor of terminating the mother’s parental rights.

The child had been removed from the mother twice because of her meth use. After her second arrest for meth, the child was again removed from the mother and picked up from a CPS worker from school. The worker stated that the child was very upset that the mother had made such a bad decision. After the second removal, the mother only visited her child one time and did not follow the court order to get the child back. The instability of the visits from the mother, and the negative emotional effects of the mother’s arrests favored termination of the mother’s parental rights under Holley factors two and four.

Holley factor three considers the current and future emotional and physical danger to the child. After the child had been removed from the mother the first time, the court allowed for the child to go back to the mother, so long as a person named J.B. had no contact with the child. But, during this time, the mom started using drugs again, and J.B. had moved in with the mother and the child again. The drug use and J.B. both were considered dangers to the child and both circumstances pushed for termination of the mother’s rights.

Holley factor seven considers the stability of the home or proposed placement. The foster mother, in this case, had planned to adopt the child and had been providing the child with a stable environment. The stability that the child could receive with the foster parent also favored termination of the mother’s rights.

Can a parent’s rights be terminated if they use meth?

In the interest of F.A.B. is an example of a mother’s rights being terminated because of meth. She could not stop using meth and it kept her from being able to provide a stable and emotionally safe environment for her child. All the circumstances of that particular case, when analyzed by the Holley factors, led to the mother losing parental rights of her child. However, as the court has noted, not one of the Holley factors is going to determine the case more than the other. The court will have to analyze each case by using the Holley factors that apply to that particular case to decide if parental termination is in the best interest of the child.