The Texas Legislative session continues to have plenty of action on the parental rights front!

A few weeks ago, the Family Freedom Project (FFP) gave testimony in the Texas House Juvenile Justice and Family Issues (JJFI) against HB 956 which is a broad and direct attack on the fundamental rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit. The bill is now officially dead in the Texas House, as it has missed the deadline to receive a vote on the house floor.

This bill has been filed every session for more than a decade with the purpose of making it possible for any grandparent to sue any fit parents for access to their children.

This measure changes the current law that limits the legal options of grandparents to take fit parents to court. It removes the limits on when grandparents can do this and drastically reduces the evidence needed for a court to overcome the rights of parents to direct the care, control, and upbringing of their children.

In 2000, a similar law in Washington was struck down by the United States Supreme Court in what has become the most significant parental rights case in our country’s history, Troxel v. Granville. In that case, the court ruled that Washington’s law impermissibly gave non-parents the ability to intervene in the parent-child relationship without giving proper deference to the decisions of the parent for their child.

Following that decision, Texas reformed its law on the subject to ensure that it properly protected parental rights. Now, HB 956 seeks to roll back those protections to make it easier for non-parents to obtain possession of or access to a child over the objections of a parent.

While the bill was voted out of the JJFI committee, it was never scheduled to receive a vote on the House Floor and is now officially dead for the seventh legislative session in a row. If history tells us anything, we can expect to be back again in two years to kill the same bill again.

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