The Texas Supreme Court’s Big Decision in Family Law This Year is
In Re C.J.C.
The Texas Supreme Court ruled in In Re C.J.C., 603 S.W.3d 804 (Tex.  2020) that, in a contested case,  regardless of whether the case is an original case in which conservatorship (custody) or possession (visitation) of a child is at issue or a motion to modify as long as the Court finds the parent is a “fit parent”, then a Court cannot grant a non-parent’s  request for conservatorship or possession of a child. 

In making this ruling the Court followed the U.S. Supreme Court case, Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 120 S. Ct. 2054, 147 L.Ed. 2d 49 (2000) which held “The government may not ‘infringe on the fundamental right of parents to make child rearing decisions’ simply because a state judge believes a ‘better decision’ could be made.”

The previous Texas Supreme Court cases we relied upon stated that the fit parent presumption only applied to original conservatorship cases, not modifications.  The Texas Supreme Court distinguished those cases on their facts or that they were decided before Troxel. 

The modification chapter of the family code does not include the same presumption found in the original conservatorship section that a fit parent is not required to allow non-parents to have conservatorship and visitation rights. Thus, some people view the In Re C.J.C. opinion as legislating from the bench.  Perhaps a more realistic view is to identify that this is the first case since the U.S. Supreme Court issued the Troxel opinion in which there was a non-parent seeking conservatorship or visitation and in which there wasn’t any ‘bad’ evidence against the parent. 

Although this case does not eliminate the specific grandparent standing, conservatorship and possession statutes, it certainly does not make them any easier to pursue.  The effective result of the In Re C.J.C. decision is to require any non-parent, non-grandparent at any time who is seeking to get conservatorship of a child or court ordered visitation with a child to prove that the parent refusing to share conservatorship or agree to court ordered visitation is an unfit parent. 

If you would like to discuss how this case may affect your family law issues or any other family law issues you may have, please contact our office, at 214-303-0142 or our temporary number 972-452-3968, e-mail or visit our website to schedule an appointment. 
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Attorney Carol Wilson has skillfully litigated and tried complex divorce, property division, and child custody cases for more than 30 years.  Carol provides expertise, focus and compassion in times of family turmoil.  Carol is a graduate of SMU, JD. 1985, became Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, 1992, and established her firm in the Turtle Creek area in 1995.  Law Office of Carol A. Wilson, PLLC, principal office in Dallas, Texas.

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