AUSTIN—Today, the Texas Public Policy Foundation published the policy perspective, Presumption of Custody to the Nonoffending Parent.

“Children have an inherent right to be raised by their natural parents and parents have a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody, and management of their children,” said Charissa Huntzinger, the paper’s author. “Automatically presuming both parents are unfit in CPS proceedings denies children and parents due process and hurts everyone in a family.”

Key Points:

  • The sanctity of the family and parental rights have been affirmed by the Supreme Court since the 1920s.
  • The Texas Family Code also upholds this principle with language suggesting courts must make separate findings for each parent; yet in practice, nonoffending parent’s rights are often terminated along with the offending parent’s rights.
  • Stanley v. Illinois made clear that presuming the unfitness of a parent without finding is unconstitutional.
  • Children who must enter substitute care, instead of the care of the noncustodial parent, face an increased likelihood of adverse, long-term outcomes.
  • Terminating rights of the nonoffending parent is unconstitutional, hurts the family, and hurts our Texas children.

The paper may be viewed in full at: