Four Texas Supreme Court Justices believe that a divorce court judge can overrule two fit parents in determining what is in that child’s best interest when those parents have negotiated with attorneys through formal mediation and signed a formal agreement as to their idea of the child’s best interests. Apparently, in their minds the judge’s opinion trumps the opinions of the parents jointly and the judge isn’t even required to prove anything at all to force his opinion on these parents. See IN RE LEE, Tex: Supreme Court 2013. Nowhere in this opinion was either parent found to be unfit.
These justices have the audacity to actually quote Troxel v. Granville before making the statement that regardless of what the US Supreme Court said in Troxel, in the Great State of Texas, a divorce court judge can substitute his opinion of best interest for that of two fit parents. Further, that judge need NOT meet any burden of proof or have any agency conduct a formal investigation of harm before enforcing his opinion. Nothing more than the judge’s opinion is needed.
The only way the judge even gets to be involved is because the parents are divorced. Therefore, this power of the State only applies to divorced parents. Married parents are not subject to this kind of invasion of privacy. Why do four Texas Supreme Court Justices believe that divorced parents are second class citizens to be summarily stripped of their constitutional rights to make decisions for their child?
Where is the due process that is supposed to be afforded to constitutionally-protected fundamental privacy rights? That due process guarantee is stripped away and thrown out the window the moment one parent files for divorce.
Luckily, in this case, the majority of justices did, in this very limited circumstance, uphold the law over the State’s stated policy to absolutely deny the constitutional rights of fit parents in divorce by assuming away their constitutional rights. These four Justices were the dissenting votes but their thinking is abhorrent.
This quote from a previous Texas Supreme Court Opinion used in this case shows that in Texas, parental rights are not considered “natural” rights but rights held by the State and “granted” to parents by benevolent judges, Miller, 118 S.W.3d at 766 (“Of course, this broad grant of parental decision-making authority is not without limits.”) It is so nice to see that we in this Great State of Texas have the right to be granted broad parental decision-making authority, at least until we enter divorce where that “grant” is summarily revoked.
So now you know the truth. When you have a child in Texas, that child is NOT yours. The Texas Supreme Court says your child belongs to the Great State of Texas and any rights you have to that child are “granted” to you by the State.