When a parent has his or her parental rights limited in the Texas Family Courts, it can be a devastating blow–or it can be a wake-up call that leads to meaningful life changes. I’ve seen many parents who undergo rehabilitation or anger management programs and come out better people and better parents.
But the law won’t automatically restore full rights back to those parents who find their rights curtailed by court orders. In fact, when a change is made to visitation or other parental rights in the Texas Family Code, the parents in that case sometimes have to wait a year before further modification can be made (unless there’s an emergency threatening the health or safety of the child).
Remember that the Texas Family Code is built around what’s best for a child, and a big reason for waiting at least a year between modification is to give children reasonable stability. In cases where parents are trying to get their rights restored, being able to show that they’ve committed to change over the long term will actually work to those parents’ advantage. Being sober for six months is obviously more impressive than being sober for six weeks, especially to a judge deciding on such a case.
But for parents who are unaware of this part of the Texas Family Code, who complete a program and expect to have rights instantly restored, it can be a shock.
You can–through an experienced family attorney working on your behalf–work out provisions for restoring your parental rights before an initial judgment is finalized. There, your attorney can request a timetable that allows you to demonstrate fitness to have your rights restored. That can get you your parental rights sooner and can keep you from having to seek modification later.
To this, however, you may have to make concessions or commit to court-ordered parameters that could cost you full rights if you violate the agreement. There’s no guarantee that a judge will grant what you and your attorney are requesting. The judge will typically look at what’s in the best interest of the child as a starting place.
There’s one important exception to the one-year rule: If the current situation is deemed to put a child at risk for irreparable physical or mental harm, the courts can step in and make an immediate change to the order. But that’s a challenging legal hurdle, particularly proving that the damage would be “irreparable.”
At the Law Office of Lisa Vance, we have experience in helping parents gain full parental rights when those rights have been limited or curtailed. Of course, much of the work is on parents in those situations to commit to change and stick to it. But by talking to us as soon as you know that those rights are in danger, we can help ensure that your rights are restored as soon as possible.