Maintaining Familial Custody During and After Parental Termination Proceedings

Texas child abuse and neglect cases often require that a child be placed in the temporary custody of another person besides the parent during the pendency of the proceeding. This may be necessary because serious allegations of abuse or neglect can warrant an urgent change in custody to protect a child from harm. Texas law works with a presumption that a child is best suited to be placed in the custody of a blood relative, especially if the child has a preexisting relationship with the relative.

In instances where parental rights are terminated after a judicial proceeding, the child will be placed in the permanent custody of another party besides the parent at issue. Courts often choose to make whatever temporary arrangement permanent after termination so long as the temporary custodian is interested in obtaining full custody of the child. A recent Texas appellate decision demonstrates the difficulty blood relatives may have in gaining custody of a child when the child was initially placed in the temporary custody of another person.

According to the facts discussed in the recently published appellate opinion, the child at issue was removed from the custody of his mother after he was hospitalized as unresponsive and tested positive for PCP, a powerful and illegal sedative drug. The child was received at the hospital, and a welfare proceeding was initiated on his behalf. During the proceeding, the child was placed in the care of a foster family, although later, a maternal aunt of the child was also interested in taking care of him as the aunt also had custody of the child’s younger brother.

The Court declined to allow the aunt to take care of the child, as he had already bonded with the foster family. Ultimately, the mother’s rights were terminated, and the court was left to decide who would have permanent custody of the child. Because of the child’s bond with his foster family, and the stable life he appeared to have been living, the court granted full custody to the foster parent against the aunt’s wishes. It appears that the ultimate custody decision was, in large part, the result of the initial temporary placement for the child. As a result of the recent decision, the child will be split up from his brother and remain in the custody of his foster family.

Are You Facing a Child Welfare Action in Texas?

If you or a loved one is facing a child welfare or parental termination proceeding in Texas, you may be concerned about who will get temporary and even permanent custody of your child if the proceedings do not go well. It may be important to fight to have your child placed in the care of a relative, which could protect existing family bonds if parental custody is lost. The experienced Texas family law and child welfare attorneys at Guest and Gray understand the factors that Texas courts apply in determining temporary and permanent custody throughout the judicial process. Our attorneys can represent your child’s best interests from the start of the proceedings, and help ensure that the child is placed with family and kept out of the foster system. If you are facing a child welfare proceeding, reach out to our offices and see how we can help.

Contact Information