Austin Travis & Williamson County Texas Adoption & Termination Attorney
Termination of Parental Rights in Texas
A parent's rights
to the companionship, care, custody, and management of his or her children are constitutional interests far more precious than any property right.
Santosky v. Kramer
, 455 U.S. 745, 758-59, 102 S. Ct. 1388, 1397 (1982);
In re M.S.,
115 S.W.3d 534, 547 (Tex. 2003).
While parental rights are of constitutional magnitude, they are not absolute. Just as it is imperative for courts to recognize the constitutional underpinnings of the parent-child relationship
, it is also essential that emotional and physical interests of the child not be sacrificed merely to preserve that right.
In re C.H.
, 89 S.W.3d 17, 26 (Tex. 2002).
In a termination case
, the State seeks not just to limit parental rights but to end them permanently and to divest the parent and child of all legal rights, privileges, duties, and powers normally existing between them, except for the child's right to inherit.
TEXAS FAMILY CODE ANN. Sec.161.206(b)
(Vernon Supp. 2007);
Holick v. Smith
, 685 S.W.2d 18, 20 (Tex. 1985).
Texas courts strictly scrutinize termination proceedings and strictly construe involuntary termination statutes in favor of the parent. Holick
, 685 S.W.2d at 20-21;
In re E.M.N
., 221 S.W.3d 815, 820 (Tex. App.CFort Worth 2007, no pet.). In proceedings to terminate the parent‑child relationship brought under section 161.001 of the family code, the petitioner (typically the State of Texas) must establish one ground listed under subdivision (1) of the statute and must also prove that termination is in the
best interest of the child
. TEXAS FAMILY CODE ANN. ' 161.001; In re J.L., 163 S.W.3d 79, 84 (Tex. 2005). Both elements must be established; termination may not be based solely on the best interest of the child as determined by the trier of fact.
Tex. Dept. of Human Servs. v. Boyd
, 727 S.W.2d 531, 533 (Tex. 1987).
Termination of parental rights is a drastic remedy and is of such weight and gravity that due process requires the petitioner to justify termination by clear and convincing evidence. TEXAS FAMILY CODE ANN. '' 161.001, 161.206(a); In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d 256, 263 (Tex. 2002). This intermediate standard falls between the preponderance standard of ordinary civil proceedings and the beyond the reasonable doubt standard of criminal proceedings.
In re G.M., 596 S.W.2d 846, 847 (Tex. 1980);
In re C.S., 208 S.W.3d 77, 83 (Tex. App.CFort Worth 2006, pet. denied). It is defined as the measure or degree of proof that will produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or conviction as to the truth of the allegations sought to be established.@ Texas Family Code Ann. Sec. 101.007 (Vernon 2002).