Texas has Killed 7 Equal Parenting Bills Over the Last Twelve Years!
Two of Texas’ current equal parenting bills have made it further than it’s predecessor two sessions ago. But other equal parenting bills have made it as far as these two and have still died. Even when bills get scheduled to be heard on a house or senate floor, the bill can still die. That’s what happened in Iowa recently. Their presumption of equal parenting bill SF 571 never got its day on the Senate floor even though it got scheduled to be heard.
Texas hasn’t even gotten a bill that far, even though equal parenting has been proposed multiple times in multiple bills, including almost this exact bill heard last month was proposed in 2007 by Rep. Van Arsdel. He was the first one that I can find to propose that parents and their children are entitled to equal time. So Rep. Van Arsdale is really the father of equal parenting in Texas.
On May 2, 2019, Texas equal parenting bills HB 2157 and HB 3414 passed the Juvenile Justice & Family Issues committee, both with 7 votes for and 1 vote against. Both bills now get sent to the calendar committee. A fiscal note has been done and found that there will be no fiscal impact if these bills pass into law. So no problem there.
Texas has had 8 bills proposed to 6 legislative bodies over 12 years.
What is the History of Texas Equal Parenting Bills?
Texas had the opportunity to be first to pass an equal parenting option into their family code. Several states have passed equal parenting presumptions over the last several years. Texas is not one of them. Kentucky passed equal parenting last year. Arizona claims to be the first to pass the presumption, although that presumption is not so clear in their statutes, but has been clarified by their appellate court to be equal. Arizona passed theirs just over five years ago. Several other states have passed presumption of equal parenting. Some states call it shared parenting and have specified within their code that shared means equal now. This is so that the word “shared” doesn’t get watered down and become minimum time sharing the way Texas has interpreted “joint managing conservatorship” time as the minimum standard possession order, as opposed to the “maximum” as it states in their family code.
Standard Possession Order Proposed Amendment to Include an Equal Parenting Time Plan
The standard possession order section of the code was created in 1995. Since the Family Code’s creation, Texas has proposed amending it with equal parenting bills during 6 of its sessions. Rep. Harold V. Dutton, Jr. has been the Chairman of the JJFI committee on all of the bills that were sent to this committee.
Texas Equal Parenting Bill Proposed in 2007.
The equal parenting bill that just passed the House sub-committee was originally written and proposed by Representative Corbin Van Arsdale in 2007. The bill died in committee that year. The current proposed bill HB 2157, has the author listed as Middleton (but is pretty much a mirror image of Van Arsdale’s 2007 bill, HB2927). Sadly Middleton’s bill has cut out the sections of the 2007 bill that would have allowed parents to use it as changed circumstance to modify their parenting plan after the bill passes into law. This bill also cut down the specificity in parenting plans that the original bill contained.
That section was not included in Middleton’s bill so now if the bill passes, only parents who have a SAPCR pending are eligible to benefit from the new law. Don’t blame Middleton though, he is new, and rumor has it he was handed this bill.
Texas Equal Parenting Bill Proposed in 2009.
During the 81st legislative session in 2009, Representative Vaught proposed HB 1611. This bill was referred to Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence committee. The bill never got a public hearing and died. This bill educated the legislators that parental rights are fundamental, that parents and their children were being treated as second class citizens, and having their child custody stripped from them without just cause.
The opening of this bill might come as a shock to you, and might make you want to send the legislators a bill of your own — to reimburse you for all of your missed time at work spent calling and educating them when there was all the education they needed from years past, right there in the legislative archive. Parents all over Texas, as well as parent advocates, activists, and experts have traveled from all over the world to educate legislators and drive to Austin to testify in the public hearing this year and the years before.
Here is the intro excerpt of this bill from 2009:
SECTION 1. It is the intent of the legislature that this Act remedy problems in the family law system whereby a fit parent is, without just cause, rendered a second class parent. A parent who has done nothing wrong can find that the parent is virtually stripped of the parent’s fundamental right to be a parent. This fundamental parental right should only be modified by agreement of the parties or a finding by a preponderance of the evidence that a parent is “unfit.” As long as a parent adequately cares for the parent’s child, the parent is presumed to be fit. This presumption may only be overcome by a preponderance of the evidence establishing that the parent does not provide adequate food, shelter, and clothing for the child.
Yep, those are your rights but the current legislators did not include this into the 2019 equal parenting bills either.
It is worth re-printing the rest of the wording in this bill. You might be surprised when you read it. It supports the arguments that we have been making and made in our green book, “NOT in the Child’s Best Interest.”
The language in this equal parenting bill states that the law would require a parent to be found unfit and properly states that the parents decide the best interest of the child. Looks like this legislator was already familiar with federal caselaw and was trying to get the state of Texas to acknowledge and provide the proper guidance to your judge. The bill however does not raise “preponderance” up to “clear and convincing.” But does a pretty darn good job with the rest. Fundamental rights require a higher standard of constitutional review before they can be infringed.
The bill also, importantly, removes the best interest factors that force parents into an unconstitutional battle to prove who is the better parent, and the unconstitutional requirement for you to qualify to continue to be a parent after divorce or separation. These were left out of Middleton’s 2019 bill and ignored also. The rest of the 2009 bill reads as follows:
SECTION 2. Section 153.001(a), Family Code, is amended to read as follows:
(a) The public policy of this state is to:
(1) assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents unless the parents mutually agree otherwise or it has been established that one of the parents is unfit to be a parent [who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child];
(2) [provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child; and
[(3)] encourage parents to share equally in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage;
(3) create an environment in which parents have an incentive to work together for the benefit of their child; and
(4) allow and encourage parents to take responsibility for their child.
SECTION 3. Section 153.002, Family Code, is amended to read as follows:
Sec. 153.002. BEST INTEREST OF CHILD. (a) The best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child.
(b) The best interest of the child shall be defined:
(1) by mutual agreement of both parents, including through a parenting plan; or
(2) if no agreement exists under Subdivision (1), as having two equally involved parents unless one parent has been established through due process in a court to be an unfit parent.
SECTION 4. Subchapter A, Chapter 153, Family Code, is amended by adding Section 153.0021 to read as follows:
Sec. 153.0021. DETERMINATION OF UNFIT PARENT. If a court determines that a parent is unfit, the court shall provide in its order the details of the evidence received by the court to support the court’s decision.
SECTION 5. Section 153.005(a), Family Code, is amended to read as follows:
(a) In a suit, the court may appoint a sole managing conservator or may appoint joint managing conservators. The court may appoint a sole managing conservator only if both parents request the appointment of a sole managing conservator or the court has established that one of the parents is unfit to be a parent. If the parents are or will be separated, the court shall appoint at least one managing conservator.
SECTION 6. Sections 153.007(b) and (c), Family Code, are amended to read as follows:
(b) Unless the court has established that one of the parents is unfit [If the court finds that the agreed parenting plan is in the child’s best interest], the court shall render an order in accordance with the parenting plan.
(c) Terms of the agreed parenting plan contained in the order or incorporated by reference regarding conservatorship or support of or possession of or access to a child in an order may be enforced by all remedies available for enforcement of a judgment, including contempt, and [but] are [not] enforceable as a contract.
SECTION 7. Section 153.072, Family Code, is amended to read as follows:
Sec. 153.072. WRITTEN FINDING REQUIRED TO LIMIT PARENTAL RIGHTS AND DUTIES. The court may limit the rights and duties of a parent appointed as a conservator if the court makes a written finding that one of the parents is unfit [the limitation is in the best interest of the child].
SECTION 8. Section 153.134(a), Family Code, is amended to read as follows:
(a) If a written agreed parenting plan is not filed with the court, or there is no finding that a parent is unfit, the court shall [may] render an order appointing the parents joint managing conservators [only if the appointment is in the best interest of the child, considering the following factors:
[(1) whether the physical, psychological, or emotional needs and development of the child will benefit from the appointment of joint managing conservators;
[(2) the ability of the parents to give first priority to the welfare of the child and reach shared decisions in the child’s best interest;
[(3) whether each parent can encourage and accept a positive relationship between the child and the other parent;
[(4) whether both parents participated in child rearing before the filing of the suit;
[(5) the geographical proximity of the parents’ residences;
[(6) if the child is 12 years of age or older, the child’s preference, if any, regarding the person to have the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child; and
[(7) any other relevant factor].
SECTION 9. Section 153.137, Family Code, is amended to read as follows:
Sec. 153.137. [GUIDELINES FOR THE] POSSESSION OF CHILD BY PARENT NAMED AS JOINT MANAGING CONSERVATOR. (a) If a court renders an order appointing the parents joint managing conservators in a proceeding in which a written agreed parenting plan for joint managing conservatorship is not filed with the court, the court shall render an order under Subchapter F that provides for equal physical parenting.
(b) The standard possession order provided by Subchapter F constitutes a presumptive minimum amount of time for possession of a child by a parent named as a joint managing conservator who is not awarded the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child in a suit.
SECTION 10. The heading to Subchapter F, Chapter 153, Family Code, is amended to read as follows:
SUBCHAPTER F. EQUAL PARENTING [STANDARD POSSESSION] ORDER
SECTION 11. Subchapter F, Chapter 153, Family Code, is amended by adding Sections 153.351 and 153.352 to read as follows:
Sec. 153.351. REQUIREMENT TO ENTER EQUAL PARENTING ORDER. Unless the parties submit a valid agreed parenting plan or the court finds that one parent is unfit, the court shall render an order providing for periods of possession of and access to a child in accordance with this subchapter.
Sec. 153.352. PERIODS OF POSSESSION UNDER EQUAL PARENTING ORDER. (a) Subject to Subsection (b), the court shall render an order under this subchapter that provides that:
(1) each parent shall have possession of the child for one week at a time, alternating weeks of possession with the other parent, with no modification in the order based on holidays that occur during each week, but subject to modification based on agreement by each parent;
(2) each parent shall have possession of the child for two weeks at a time, alternating two-week periods of possession with the other parent, with one weeknight of possession exercised during each week of the period by the parent not otherwise in possession during that period, and subject to modification based on agreement by each parent; or
(3) each parent shall have possession of the child for four weeks at a time, alternating four-week periods of possession with the other parent, with one weeknight of possession exercised during each week of the period by the parent not otherwise in possession during that period, and subject to modification based on agreement by each parent.
(b) A court shall provide parents with the opportunity to select by mutual agreement any possession schedule the parents choose. If the parents do not agree, the court may order any arrangement described by Subsection (a).
(c) For purposes of Subsection (a), the beginning of a period of possession shall be the end of school on Friday and the end of the period shall be the appropriate subsequent Friday at the end of school. If school is not in session on a Friday, the period of possession shall begin and end at 5 p.m.
(d) A child’s residence shall be presumed to be in the school district in which the child resided when the child’s parents separated unless otherwise mutually agreed to in writing by the parents.
(e) If a parent moves more than 100 miles from the school the child attends, that parent shall arrange and pay for all travel to and from the school unless the parents agree otherwise. The parent that moved shall be obligated to adequately arrange for the child to attend the same school.
SECTION 12. Section 153.433, Family Code, is amended to read as follows:
Sec. 153.433. POSSESSION OF OR ACCESS TO GRANDCHILD. The court shall order reasonable possession of or access to a grandchild by a grandparent if:
(1) at the time the relief is requested, at least one biological or adoptive parent of the child has not had that parent’s parental rights terminated;
(2) the grandparent requesting possession of or access to the child overcomes the presumption that a parent acts in the best interest of the parent’s child by proving by a preponderance of the evidence that both parents are unfit to be parents [denial of possession of or access to the child would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional well-being]; and
(3) the grandparent requesting possession of or access to the child is a parent of a parent of the child and that parent of the child:
(A) has been incarcerated in jail or prison during the three-month period preceding the filing of the petition;
(B) has been found by a court to be incompetent;
(C) is dead; or
(D) does not have actual or court-ordered possession of or access to the child.
SECTION 13. The changes in law made by this Act to Chapter 153, Family Code, apply only to a suit affecting the parent-child relationship pending before a court on or filed on or after the effective date of this Act.
SECTION 14. This Act takes effect September 1, 2009.
Texas Equal Parenting Bills Proposed in 2011.
Then the 82nd legislature saw three bills proposed all related to equal parenting, HB 1229, HB 2554, and SB 522 in 2009. HB 1229 was referred to Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence and received a public hearing. It failed to get the votes it needed to get out of committee however. HB 2554 failed to get a hearing. SB 522 was referred to Jurisprudence, but failed to get a hearing.
Texas Equal Parenting Bills Proposed in 2013.
None. No equal parenting bills were proposed in 2013. It seemed to father’s rights activists that things have grown stagnant. They had tried derivatives from the 2007 and 2009 bills, but still no success in getting either of them into law.
After these multiple attempts and no equal parenting bill was proposed in the 83rd legislative body in 2013, Ron B. Palmer and Sherry Palmer jointly authored and published the book, “NOT in the Child’s Best Interest.” And they began educating leaders of the Father’s Rights Movement or as TFLF labels them MRA, attorneys, other parents, judges, and legislators that the starting point required by the constitution is equal parenting orders, that it was improper to see this as a gender battle, that children had concomitant rights to equal time with each parent, and that the legislature needed to provide the proper guidance in their state laws for the judge, and that the laws were unconstitutional where it exceeds the judge’s authority. The book was published in May of 2013. The 83rd legislative session was at its end when the book published, The Father’s Rights Movement and other parental rights activists and advocates were frustrated at the lack of progress in legislation and discouraged. The book helped them re-frame their approach and arguments in the courts and the legislators.
Sherry Palmer went with parents to speak to their legislators during the interim between 2013 and 2015 to educate them on where these parental rights ideas came from.
Texas Equal Parenting Bills Proposed in 2015.
By 2015, when the 84th legislative session came around, (it’s every two years in Texas), Representative Pena proposed equal parenting bill, HB 2363. The bill passed through Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committee. It then died in the Calendar Committee. This means that the bill never got a hearing date on the House floor.
There was rumor that one of the legislators on the Juvenile Justice & Family Issues committee did not like the bill, was unhappy that it passed through committee, and had it red flagged in the calendar committee. A signal not to schedule it on the House calendar. The Bill was never scheduled to be heard by the House floor and died in calendars.
JUST A THOUGHT: It would be nice if Texas made a law where a bill that didn’t make it onto the schedule to be heard by the full House floor could resume where it left off the session before, and not have to go through the subcommittee again. Texas only hears bills every two years and only have 80 days to get the bill passed. For that matter, it would be nice to do the same with bills that get scheduled and not heard as well.
Texas Equal Parenting Bill Proposed in 2017.
Next session, two years later, Representative White submitted HB 453 in 2017. This was the 85th legislative session. This equal parenting bill was killed before it ever got a public hearing in the JJFI committee. The claims were that someone made threats and they said they came from one of the men’s rights groups.
I blogged about how another bill that year was garnering death threats but that bill continued to be pushed through. In fact, the author of that bill came out and did just the opposite, he stated publicly that even though he and his family were receiving death threats and had to hire body guards that he was going to continue to fight to get the bill passed into law. This was a bill that proposed further restricting abortion.
Texas Equal Parenting Bill Proposed in 2019.
This brings us to the current bill, or should I say the return back to the 2007 bill. This bill took out the sections that would have allowed all parents who already have an order appointing them as a conservator to file a request for equal parenting plan. The proposed bill in 2007 allowed that reason to qualify as a changed circumstance. (I really dislike that phrase by the way “appointing them as a conservator.” Parents don’t need to be appointed!)
If this bill passes all the way through the house and the senate and gets the signature of the Governor, only parents who are currently in a SAPCR will qualify for the equal parenting plan.
This doesn’t mean that you cannot modify. It just means that you will have to meet the changed circumstances requirement using something else, and not the passage of the new law.
What is the Process a Bill Goes Through Before it Becomes Law in Texas?
Bills are referred to committees during floor sessions and receive what’s known as a “first reading” once they get a public hearing. After a committee has done its work and reported a bill favorably, each chamber may bring it to the floor for debate and a preliminary vote, which is known as “second reading.” That’s followed by a final “third reading” before its sent to the opposite chamber. Once a majority of members from both the House and Senate come to an agreement on a bill’s language, it’s sent to the governor where he or she can either sign it into law, veto it or allow it to become law without a signature. For more on this you can read at the Texas Tribune.
What are the Critical Dates and Upcoming Deadlines for Legislative Bills in 2019?
As the 86th Legislature draws to a close, a series of end-of-session deadlines begin to take effect. Below is a list of deadlines that occur next week:
- Monday, May 6: Last day for house committees to report house bills and house joint resolutions.
- Tuesday, May 7: Deadline for house to distribute last House Daily Calendar with house bills and house joint resolutions.
- Wednesday, May 8: Deadline for house to distribute last House Local and Consent Calendar with consent house bills.
- Thursday, May 9: Last day for house to consider house bills and house joint resolutions on second reading on House Daily or Supplemental Calendar.
- Friday, May 10: Last day for house to consider consent house bills on second and third reading and all third reading house bills or house joint resolutions on House Supplemental Calendar.
Bill statistics for the period of Nov. 12, 2018 – April 26, 2019 are below.
Public Policy Proposed Amendment
This year’s proposed equal parenting bill makes a proposed addition to the public policy. It adds the word “equal” so that the law would read: “encourage parents to share equally in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage. (The underlining in this quoted sentence indicates to lawmakers that this is an added word. The words not underlined are words already in the law.) This is also exactly the same proposal that was made in Van Arsdel 2007 proposed equal parenting bill.
Put Van Arsdel’s bill and Rep. Middleton’s bill side by side and you can see that Texas has had over a decade to let this idea sink in. If this follows the same pattern as Arizona where Dr. William Fabricius spent over ten years educating the legislators and judges on the benefits of equal parenting, then passing an equal parenting bill this year in Texas would make sense. The dates don’t look favorable to getting it through the House floor and the Senate, but that doesn’t mean that it is impossible.
Some Final Words about Equality in Texas and Politics.
Interestingly Representative Dutton has sat as Chairman of the Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committee all of the years that equal parenting bills have been proposed, all the way back to the first one in 2007. Both of the equal parenting bills passed the JJFI committee this year with only one “no.” The way each person voted is not published so we are only left to guess at this time, who that person was.
Rep. Vaught sat on the JJFI committee in 2007 when Arsdale presented the equal parenting bill that year. Then the next session, in 2009, Vaught introduced a bill that proposed corrections in the law regarding fundamental parental rights.
Between Van Arsdel and Vaught the legislature has been informed and educated on what really needs to be done in the law. They have just chosen not to do it. The bill that is being proposed this year is not sufficient to correct the errors that Van Arsdel and Vaught so wisely identified and tried to codify.
Sure push for the passage of the 2019 bills, but don’t leave out of your testimony that their work is not done and that you reject the idea that a judge gets to decide against an equal parenting plan based on nothing more than his idea of what is best for your child just because you and the other parent disagree. Take Van Arsdell’s and Vaught’s bills with you add in clear and convincing and tell them you will continue to fight until the state protects yours and your child’s rights to receive these protections in full as the state and federal constitutions require.
Let them know that you won’t be tricked, tortured, and used like paychecks by this state anymore, and that you appreciate that they are codifying an equal parenting plan option, but that you want to be up front with them and you don’t want them to be confused. You are letting them know that the work is not done.
Look at the current bills as an attempt by those working for the government to shut down your momentum. This is a common tactic used in big corporations when they are dealing with unhappy employees. They will try to get the union workers to compromise so that they lose their momentum and those in power don’t have to give them the full equality they are asking for. Once it is realized that they only received a token, they have lost the interest from the majority of the people in the movement and have to spend many years trying to rebuild that momentum all over again. They rarely do so the injustices that remain continue.
What is Different This Year?
This year Texas has lawsuits attacking the State BAR for restricting First Amendment rights. This year the legislators have the Attorney General opinion clarifying that strict scrutiny applies. This year all states have more concentrated and focused research confirming that stripping a child from a fit and loving parent is not only confusing, sends the wrong messages, creates false beliefs, leads to parental alienation, and creates more harms measurable on the ACES scale. This year we know that it is more protective for children to have as much equality in each parent’s lives despite their legal flaws. We know now that children love their parents despite any shortcomings, despite their differences in beliefs and values, and that choosing one style of parenting over the other causes the children more depression, creates more violence in society, increases negative behaviors like early pregnancy, dropping out of school, resorting to masking confusion and pain with alcohol and drugs, and leads to development of more deadly diseases into adulthood. Ripping children from what they know and preventing parents from establishing two separate and individual households creates more anger, loss of productivity, and prevents parents and children from reaching their potentiality. These are all societal harms. And as Dr. Fabicius says below has created a public health crisis. Don’t believe him or me, how many more shootings do we have today, more violence from people going through custody battles who had no criminal record or history of mental health prior to their divorce?
There is nothing good about the government violating constitutional rights. People are learning that their rights are there to protect them, not the attorney’s idea of what is best for your child. People are learning that their rights are there to protect them and solve the differences between the parents by protecting their differences by preventing the law from interfering with those differences, not the judge’s idea of what is best for you and your child. People are learning that they are entitled to raise their children how they see fit and that they are entitled to be free from judgment on their parenting choices, on their life choices, and on their matters of conscience.
The Supreme Court has found that litigation itself is harmful. Representative Calanni recognizes that the cost of litigation is harmful. You have some good legislators there, don’t be afraid to push them to provide you with the maximum protections you are entitled. Tell them that the judge taking away your equal time with your child based on best interest is unconstitutional. Don’t settle for something that is going to prolong the unnecessary and expensive litigation. Fight for what is right.
What is the Real Problem?
The problem has not been that the legislators have failed to pass bills that put the right law into place. The problem has been that the people of Texas, Texans have not protected the legislators who brought forward the laws that would protect you and your children. The problem is that Rep. Van Arsdel and Rep. Vaught needed your protection to stay in office. Where are they now? Why aren’t they still there? You needed to keep them in office once they proved that they were willing to face the mighty financial interests in child custody and child support. They both brought forward laws that would have prevented all of us and all of our children from experiencing these horrible tragedies that Dolcefino Consulting mentions in the video below. They brought forward laws that would have prevented Texas from becoming one of the worst offenders in the United States. I say the worst, because they had two of the best bills brought forward in 2007 and 2009, all the legislators since have had these as models and have chosen to ignore, just like the people of Germany chose to ignore the smell of the bodies being burned in the internment camps, so have your legislators who have been in their seats since 2007 and 2009 watched you and your children get abused, tormented, buillied, suffer legal abuse, have your parent-child bonds strained, torn, and destroyed. Some have even died through suicide or have been murdered. They knew their laws weren’t protecting and they did nothing about it!
And some of these legislators should know when they themselves have flaws, fallen behind in child support, and have made legal mistakes, and had run ins with the law.
If they do not get best interest out of that bill and they continue to use it to continue their abusive and unconstitutional practices, we will continue to hammer them.
We hope that after reading this you will find Van Arsdale and Vaught and bring them back, and protect the current ones like Rep. Callanni, and replace the ones who have prevented you and your child from receiving the protections of the constitution to which you have been entitled.
Parents Have a More Difficult Time Protecting Their Rights When Legislators Fail to Promote Them in The State Laws.
The problem is also that when parents learn their rights, attorneys refuse to apply them because they know the judges will default to the state statutes. True there aren’t enough parents who learn their rights and fight for them in the courts soon enough. That is because they do not know they need to do this.
The problem is that parents have believed the lying state BAR association. They believed that attorneys were protecting their rights. They believed that they could just pay their attorney and everything would be handled, and they would be protected and able to go on with their life.
The problem is that people have been fooled and thought that their attorneys were protecting them. They found out too late that the attorneys have been co-opted into protecting a state financial scheme, and their own pocketbooks. And once a parent figures this out they are broke and broken, and have no way to fight back out of the hole the process, the attorneys, and the courts have dug for them.
The problem is that parents think that they don’t have rights unless they are codified in their state laws. Federal laws trump state laws.
The problem is that parents believe the attorneys when they tell them they can treat them different than parents in suits with third parties. Parents are being told that if the other parent is suing them for child custody, that they are fighting over the same rights, competing for the same rights, and therefore the suit is different than a third-party suit. This is state created. You have the right to separate from that other person, your rights are no longer tied to the marriage, and therefore each of your rights are individual and separate, and are entitled to the same protections of the law. The law already has a way to address the issue that the two of you can no longer exercise your rights at the same time. The proper and least harmful way to handle this is to apply the law in the same way the law is applied in First Amendment disputes. What does the law do when your First Amendment rights are attacked in public and in private? Your speech rights are a roadmap for how fundamental rights are protected. For instance if a neighbor says that they don’t like that you say cursed at them while in your front yard. The law protects your right to curse and tells the other person that they cannot stop you from this activity. The same goes for parents. The law does not make you qualify to have these rights of speech. The same goes for parents in dispute. The law is required to apply strict scrutiny, the law is required to protect both of you to be able to exercise your rights individually and separately. And since you cannot exercise your rights together anymore, you are supposed to be protected to exercising your rights, 100% of your rights individually and separately. Since a separation naturally makes it impossible for the two of you to exercise your rights at the same time, the law is to protect each of your time to the maximum — that is where we get that they have to make an order that is least restrictive. The least restrictive is equal time and equal rights. There is nothing complicated about that at all. An executive agency can handle this. There is no need for litigation over this. There is no cause of action that justifies this litigation.
No-Fault Divorce Does Away with Best Interest
Best interest has been used to justify all of the harm and expensive litigation that ensues in family law. Best interest however is another way of finding fault. If parents both file that they have irreconciliable differences, then fault finding is not allowed, period. Best interest requires that the judge find one parent slightly better than the other, that means that one is punished for their lawful behaviors by losing some time with their child and some loss of rights. That parent is usually ordered to pay the other parent, something many parents feel is a punishment. Look at when Rep. Dutton was told to pay the mother of his four children. He is quoted as saying that he didn’t want her to receive a penny more than she should and so he went into arrears and was willing to be hauled in to court and told by a judge exactly what he was to pay. Why would someone feel that way if it was for their children? Because it is not. Other attorneys when a parent fights back in an appeal, calls that parent “the loser parent.” So if the parents filed under no-fault divorce how is that either of them has been made a “loser.”
Bottom-line, best interest of the child is a scam allowing the continuation of unconstitutional practices, and it’s only purpose is to punish one parent and strip them of rights and time with their child.
If you are not convinced just pull up Facebook and YouTube and look up parents who have been classified as the noncustodial parent, the nonresidential parent, or a possessory conservator. You will find that “best interest of the child” was used. You will find that the parents are complaining of being held to standards they did not know in advance, that they feel ambushed, that the goal-posts kept being moved, and that they had no idea how to please the court, or that the court’s demands were unreasonable and impossible. You should ask yourself why was the person being put through that in the first place? Why where they having to justify their parenting choices that were lawful, maybe just not preferred or favored? You know the answer now, best interest has allowed the state to hide unconstitutional practices and profit.**
Equal Parenting is a Public Health Issue
“William Fabricius, associate professor at the ASU Department of Psychology, is a pioneer in research on divorced children and long-term health outcomes. . . . The fact that the people in charge of child custody decisions were unaware of established findings in developmental psychology inspired Fabricius. “We as scientists have so much knowledge, and we should go out and do basic training in the community,” he said.”
Meet the Lobbyists Preventing Texas Parents and Children from Equality in Texas.
Steve and Amy Bresnen have been lobbying for the state BAR’s lobbying arm, the Texas Family Law Foundation during the years that the above equal parenting bills have been proposed and failed to pass.*
EDITOR’S NOTE: I made a correction to this post in the title and first subtitle. I had the wrong number of bills in the title and in the first subtitle. I had all of the Bill’s listed in the post but then just accounted for one each legislative session. Some of the bills counted are companion bills or bills that compliment or coordinate with the main equal parenting bill.
*With the exception of this year’s proposed bill, since that one has not finished it’s course yet.
**You can read about Title IV-D in other blog posts that I have made.