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Historically in Texas, if parental rights were terminated, there was no hope for family reunification. That changed when the 87th Texas Legislature passed House Bill 2962 in May 2021. The law creates a new cause of action allowing families whose parental right have been terminated to bring a lawsuit to have their parental rights restored and to regain custody of their children.

Since the bill was enacted, parents have brought non-contested cases, and their parental rights were reinstated with CPS’s agreement. But in November 2022, the first ever parent-versus-CPS for restoration of parental rights case went to trial. During the trial, the court heard evidence that the family lost their parental rights four years ago, but since then, the family worked to strengthen their parenting skills and build a stable home in hopes their child could return. There was heartfelt testimony about the family’s rehabilitation and evidence that the young child wanted to be reunited with his parents. After a multi-day trial, the Lubbock County judge granted the parents’ petition.

Emily Fouts and Blair Saylor Oscarsson, attorneys with Sprouse Shrader Smith in Amarillo, represented the family. Fouts, who led the trial team, says, “It’s very fulfilling. Our clients have done a lot of meaningful work through their therapy and parenting classes to provide a safe, loving home for their child. I couldn’t be happier for them.” As for HB 2962, Fouts says, “This is all very new. There is no case law to guide us. But this bill will benefit so many, especially older children who have a harder time being adopted out of the foster care system, and parents who have made major improvements in their lives.”

To be eligible to file a petition, a former parent must provide evidence that:

  1. reinstatement of parental rights is in the child’s best interests;
  2. at least two years have passed since the issuance of the order terminating the former parent’s paternal rights;
  3. the child has not been adopted and is not subject of a written adoption placement agreement;
  4. the child consents to the reinstatement and desires to reside with the parent;
  5. the former parent has remedied the conditions that were grounds for rendering the order terminating parental rights; and
  6. the former parent is willing and has the capability to perform parental duties including health, safety, and welfare of the child.

Fouts says she is excited to see how HB 2962 will change family law and is proud to have been in the forefront of such a groundbreaking new law.

For more information, please reach out to any of our Family Law Attorneys.