Humanity. In the practice of Family Law, we get to see the entire spectrum of humanity – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some days being in court is like being in the audience of one of those crazy talk shows when they reveal who the father is; Some days it’s more like watching paint dry while you watch people argue over petty things because they are so jaded by their bad relationship and the entire divorce process that they are unable to make rational decisions. My favorite days are days when there is an adoption being done, this is one of the true highlights of practicing family law – you see a child being adopted by a loving family, everyone is happy, the children usually get to take pictures with the Judge and may even receive a special stuffed animal from the court. You can literally feel the happiness of those involved radiating in the courtroom.
Parental Rights. This is one of the things that family courts deal with on a daily basis. Most of us do not realize how precious these rights are until they are put in jeopardy. I will forever remember the first case I was involved in where a client we once represented decided that the best thing she could do was to relinquish her paternal rights. Child Protective Services was involved and our client, who was the mother, decided that she was unable to care for the child and made the decision early on she wanted to relinquish her rights. Some might look at this mother and be very judgmental. I looked at her and felt compassion.
She was not in a position to care for her very young child, nor did she feel like she would be anytime soon. The child was in a loving home, well looked after, and cared for. Our client was required to sign a Relinquishment of Paternal Rights and although she understood and we had spoken about it on several occasions – when it came down to signing the Relinquishment the grief of this mother was palpable. Tears started to flow from her and a lump in my own throat stopped me from offering her immediate words of comfort. Once I was able to gather my own composure, I communicated to her that I could see what a tough decision she made, and that I truly admired her for being able to put her child first when making this decision. She had not always been able to do that, but that day in Court she did.
The Texas Family Code governs involuntary termination of parental rights and there is a laundry list of items – if one of the items can be established in court – it can provide a basis for the Family Courts to terminate a person’s parental rights. The Family Courts take termination of parental rights very seriously, the Supreme Court has compared termination of parental rights in family cases to the death penalty in criminal cases. That is why in CPS matters, if a parent is found to be indigent, they have a right to a court appointed attorney. If you have any questions regarding family law or child custody law, feel free to give our office a call.