Paxton is asking the Texas Supreme Court to overturn the lower court’s decision in the child custody order

Attorney General Paxton submitted an amicus brief to the Texas Supreme Court to ensure proper custody decisions are made on behalf of Texas children and to ensure Texas appellate courts review legal judgments accurately and consistently.

In this case, the decision is about whether four children should live mainly with their mother or with their father. In these cases, “the wishes of the child” are among the relevant factors. The Texas Family Code states that trial courts “must” interview a child who is at least twelve years old to determine the child’s wishes. The couple’s eldest child was 12 years old, but the court failed to conduct closed-door questioning despite the mother’s requests.

The Dallas-based Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recognized that the trial court erred in refusing to question the child, but the court misapplied the doctrine of harmless error and erroneously ruled that the failure to conduct closed-door questioning , did no harm.

The Texas Supreme Court should overturn the Court of Appeals’ ruling, affirm children’s right to be heard on these sensitive matters, and ensure that the doctrine of harmless error is applied consistently throughout the Texas legal system.

The amicus brief states: “The State agrees with the plaintiff that the court erred. And because the trial court’s error means that the content and meaning of the MNs in camera interviews are unknown, the error prevents the appeals courts from assessing whether the error was likely to have influenced the verdict — the best-interest determination. By considering the error to be harmless, the Court of Appeals misapplied the harmless error doctrine. His judgment should be revised.”

To read the full amicus letter, click here.

Comments are closed.