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Statutes > Texas > Family-code > Title-5-the-parent-child-relationship-and-the-suit-affecting-the-parent-child-relationship > Chapter-161-termination-of-the-parent-child-relationship

FAMILY CODE

TITLE 5. THE PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP AND THE SUIT AFFECTING THE

PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP

SUBTITLE B. SUITS AFFECTING THE PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP

CHAPTER 161. TERMINATION OF THE PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP

SUBCHAPTER A. GROUNDS

Sec. 161.001. INVOLUNTARY TERMINATION OF PARENT-CHILD

RELATIONSHIP. The court may order termination of the

parent-child relationship if the court finds by clear and

convincing evidence:

(1) that the parent has:

(A) voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of

another not the parent and expressed an intent not to return;

(B) voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of

another not the parent without expressing an intent to return,

without providing for the adequate support of the child, and

remained away for a period of at least three months;

(C) voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of

another without providing adequate support of the child and

remained away for a period of at least six months;

(D) knowingly placed or knowingly allowed the child to remain in

conditions or surroundings which endanger the physical or

emotional well-being of the child;

(E) engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the child with

persons who engaged in conduct which endangers the physical or

emotional well-being of the child;

(F) failed to support the child in accordance with the parent’s

ability during a period of one year ending within six months of

the date of the filing of the petition;

(G) abandoned the child without identifying the child or

furnishing means of identification, and the child’s identity

cannot be ascertained by the exercise of reasonable diligence;

(H) voluntarily, and with knowledge of the pregnancy, abandoned

the mother of the child beginning at a time during her pregnancy

with the child and continuing through the birth, failed to

provide adequate support or medical care for the mother during

the period of abandonment before the birth of the child, and

remained apart from the child or failed to support the child

since the birth;

(I) contumaciously refused to submit to a reasonable and lawful

order of a court under Subchapter D, Chapter 261;

(J) been the major cause of:

(i) the failure of the child to be enrolled in school as

required by the Education Code; or

(ii) the child’s absence from the child’s home without the

consent of the parents or guardian for a substantial length of

time or without the intent to return;

(K) executed before or after the suit is filed an unrevoked or

irrevocable affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights as

provided by this chapter;

(L) been convicted or has been placed on community supervision,

including deferred adjudication community supervision, for being

criminally responsible for the death or serious injury of a child

under the following sections of the Penal Code or adjudicated

under Title 3 for conduct that caused the death or serious injury

of a child and that would constitute a violation of one of the

following Penal Code sections:

(i) Section 19.02 (murder);

(ii) Section 19.03 (capital murder);

(iii) Section 19.04 (manslaughter);

(iv) Section 21.11 (indecency with a child);

(v) Section 22.01 (assault);

(vi) Section 22.011 (sexual assault);

(vii) Section 22.02 (aggravated assault);

(viii) Section 22.021 (aggravated sexual assault);

(ix) Section 22.04 (injury to a child, elderly individual, or

disabled individual);

(x) Section 22.041 (abandoning or endangering child);

(xi) Section 25.02 (prohibited sexual conduct);

(xii) Section 43.25 (sexual performance by a child);

(xiii) Section 43.26 (possession or promotion of child

pornography); and

(xiv) Section 21.02 (continuous sexual abuse of young child or

children);

(M) had his or her parent-child relationship terminated with

respect to another child based on a finding that the parent’s

conduct was in violation of Paragraph (D) or (E) or substantially

equivalent provisions of the law of another state;

(N) constructively abandoned the child who has been in the

permanent or temporary managing conservatorship of the Department

of Family and Protective Services or an authorized agency for not

less than six months, and:

(i) the department or authorized agency has made reasonable

efforts to return the child to the parent;

(ii) the parent has not regularly visited or maintained

significant contact with the child; and

(iii) the parent has demonstrated an inability to provide the

child with a safe environment;

(O) failed to comply with the provisions of a court order that

specifically established the actions necessary for the parent to

obtain the return of the child who has been in the permanent or

temporary managing conservatorship of the Department of Family

and Protective Services for not less than nine months as a result

of the child’s removal from the parent under Chapter 262 for the

abuse or neglect of the child;

(P) used a controlled substance, as defined by Chapter 481,

Health and Safety Code, in a manner that endangered the health or

safety of the child, and:

(i) failed to complete a court-ordered substance abuse treatment

program; or

(ii) after completion of a court-ordered substance abuse

treatment program, continued to abuse a controlled substance;

(Q) knowingly engaged in criminal conduct that has resulted in

the parent’s:

(i) conviction of an offense; and

(ii) confinement or imprisonment and inability to care for the

child for not less than two years from the date of filing the

petition;

(R) been the cause of the child being born addicted to alcohol

or a controlled substance, other than a controlled substance

legally obtained by prescription, as defined by Section 261.001;

(S) voluntarily delivered the child to a designated emergency

infant care provider under Section 262.302 without expressing an

intent to return for the child; or

(T) been convicted of:

(i) the murder of the other parent of the child under Section

19.02 or 19.03, Penal Code, or under a law of another state,

federal law, the law of a foreign country, or the Uniform Code of

Military Justice that contains elements that are substantially

similar to the elements of an offense under Section 19.02 or

19.03, Penal Code;

(ii) criminal attempt under Section 15.01, Penal Code, or under

a law of another state, federal law, the law of a foreign

country, or the Uniform Code of Military Justice that contains

elements that are substantially similar to the elements of an

offense under Section 15.01, Penal Code, to commit the offense

described by Subparagraph (i); or

(iii) criminal solicitation under Section 15.03, Penal Code, or

under a law of another state, federal law, the law of a foreign

country, or the Uniform Code of Military Justice that contains

elements that are substantially similar to the elements of an

offense under Section 15.03, Penal Code, of the offense described

by Subparagraph (i); and

(2) that termination is in the best interest of the child.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20,

1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 709, Sec. 1, eff.

Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 65, eff. Sept.

1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 575, Sec. 9, eff. Sept. 1,

1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1022, Sec. 60, eff. Sept. 1,

1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1087, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999;

Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1390, Sec. 18, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts

2001, 77th Leg., ch. 809, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch.

508, Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2005.

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch.

593, Sec. 3.30, eff. September 1, 2007.

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch.

86, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2009.

Sec. 161.002. TERMINATION OF THE RIGHTS OF AN ALLEGED BIOLOGICAL

FATHER. (a) Except as otherwise provided by this section, the

procedural and substantive standards for termination of parental

rights apply to the termination of the rights of an alleged

father.

(b) The rights of an alleged father may be terminated if:

(1) after being served with citation, he does not respond by

timely filing an admission of paternity or a counterclaim for

paternity under Chapter 160;

(2) the child is over one year of age at the time the petition

for termination of the parent-child relationship or for adoption

is filed, he has not registered with the paternity registry under

Chapter 160, and after the exercise of due diligence by the

petitioner:

(A) his identity and location are unknown; or

(B) his identity is known but he cannot be located;

(3) the child is under one year of age at the time the petition

for termination of the parent-child relationship or for adoption

is filed and he has not registered with the paternity registry

under Chapter 160; or

(4) he has registered with the paternity registry under Chapter

160, but the petitioner’s attempt to personally serve citation at

the address provided to the registry and at any other address for

the alleged father known by the petitioner has been unsuccessful,

despite the due diligence of the petitioner.

(c) The termination of the rights of an alleged father under

Subsection (b)(2) rendered on or after January 1, 1998, and

before January 1, 2008, does not require personal service of

citation or citation by publication on the alleged father.

(c-1) The termination of the rights of an alleged father under

Subsection (b)(2) or (3) rendered on or after January 1, 2008,

does not require personal service of citation or citation by

publication on the alleged father, and there is no requirement to

identify or locate an alleged father who has not registered with

the paternity registry under Chapter 160.

(d) The termination of rights of an alleged father under

Subsection (b)(4) does not require service of citation by

publication on the alleged father.

(e) The court shall not render an order terminating parental

rights under Subsection (b)(2) or (3) unless the court receives

evidence of a certificate of the results of a search of the

paternity registry under Chapter 160 from the bureau of vital

statistics indicating that no man has registered the intent to

claim paternity.

(f) The court shall not render an order terminating parental

rights under Subsection (b)(4) unless the court, after reviewing

the petitioner’s sworn affidavit describing the petitioner’s

effort to obtain personal service of citation on the alleged

father and considering any evidence submitted by the attorney ad

litem for the alleged father, has found that the petitioner

exercised due diligence in attempting to obtain service on the

alleged father. The order shall contain specific findings

regarding the exercise of due diligence of the petitioner.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20,

1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 66, eff.

Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 561, Sec. 7, eff. Sept.

1, 1997; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 821, Sec. 2.16, eff. June 14,

2001; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1090, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch.

1283, Sec. 4, eff. September 1, 2007.

Sec. 161.003. INVOLUNTARY TERMINATION: INABILITY TO CARE FOR

CHILD. (a) The court may order termination of the parent-child

relationship in a suit filed by the Department of Protective and

Regulatory Services if the court finds that:

(1) the parent has a mental or emotional illness or a mental

deficiency that renders the parent unable to provide for the

physical, emotional, and mental needs of the child;

(2) the illness or deficiency, in all reasonable probability,

proved by clear and convincing evidence, will continue to render

the parent unable to provide for the child’s needs until the 18th

birthday of the child;

(3) the department has been the temporary or sole managing

conservator of the child of the parent for at least six months

preceding the date of the hearing on the termination held in

accordance with Subsection (c);

(4) the department has made reasonable efforts to return the

child to the parent; and

(5) the termination is in the best interest of the child.

(b) Immediately after the filing of a suit under this section,

the court shall appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the

interests of the parent against whom the suit is brought.

(c) A hearing on the termination may not be held earlier than

180 days after the date on which the suit was filed.

(d) An attorney appointed under Subsection (b) shall represent

the parent for the duration of the suit unless the parent, with

the permission of the court, retains another attorney.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20,

1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 67, eff.

Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 496, Sec. 1, eff. Sept.

1, 2001; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1090, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1,

2001.

Sec. 161.004. TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS AFTER DENIAL OF

PRIOR PETITION TO TERMINATE. (a) The court may terminate the

parent-child relationship after rendition of an order that

previously denied termination of the parent-child relationship

if:

(1) the petition under this section is filed after the date the

order denying termination was rendered;

(2) the circumstances of the child, parent, sole managing

conservator, possessory conservator, or other party affected by

the order denying termination have materially and substantially

changed since the date that the order was rendered;

(3) the parent committed an act listed under Section 161.001

before the date the order denying termination was rendered; and

(4) termination is in the best interest of the child.

(b) At a hearing under this section, the court may consider

evidence presented at a previous hearing in a suit for

termination of the parent-child relationship of the parent with

respect to the same child.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20,

1995.

Sec. 161.005. TERMINATION WHEN PARENT IS PETITIONER. (a) A

parent may file a suit for termination of the petitioner’s

parent-child relationship. The court may order termination if

termination is in the best interest of the child.

(b) If the petition designates the Department of Protective and

Regulatory Services as managing conservator, the department shall

be given service of citation. The court shall notify the

department if the court appoints the department as the managing

conservator of the child.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20,

1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 68, eff.

Sept. 1, 1995.

Sec. 161.006. TERMINATION AFTER ABORTION. (a) A petition

requesting termination of the parent-child relationship with

respect to a parent who is not the petitioner may be granted if

the child was born alive as the result of an abortion.

(b) In this code, “abortion” means an intentional expulsion of a

human fetus from the body of a woman induced by any means for the

purpose of causing the death of the fetus.

(c) The court or the jury may not terminate the parent-child

relationship under this section with respect to a parent who:

(1) had no knowledge of the abortion; or

(2) participated in or consented to the abortion for the sole

purpose of preventing the death of the mother.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20,

1995.

Sec. 161.007. TERMINATION WHEN PREGNANCY RESULTS FROM CRIMINAL

ACT. The court may order the termination of the parent-child

relationship of a parent and a child if the court finds that:

(1) the parent has been convicted of an offense committed under

Section 21.02, 22.011, 22.021, or 25.02, Penal Code;

(2) as a direct result of the commission of the offense by the

parent, the victim of the offense became pregnant with the

parent’s child; and

(3) termination is in the best interest of the child.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 561, Sec. 8, eff. Sept. 1,

1997.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch.

593, Sec. 3.31, eff. September 1, 2007.

SUBCHAPTER B. PROCEDURES

Sec. 161.101. PETITION ALLEGATIONS. A petition for the

termination of the parent-child relationship is sufficient

without the necessity of specifying the underlying facts if the

petition alleges in the statutory language the ground for the

termination and that termination is in the best interest of the

child.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20,

1995.

Sec. 161.102. FILING SUIT FOR TERMINATION BEFORE BIRTH. (a) A

suit for termination may be filed before the birth of the child.

(b) If the suit is filed before the birth of the child, the

petition shall be styled “In the Interest of an Unborn Child.”

After the birth, the clerk shall change the style of the case to

conform to the requirements of Section 102.008.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20,

1995.

Sec. 161.103. AFFIDAVIT OF VOLUNTARY RELINQUISHMENT OF PARENTAL

RIGHTS. (a) An affidavit for voluntary relinquishment of

parental rights must be:

(1) signed after the birth of the child, but not before 48 hours

after the birth of the child, by the parent, whether or not a

minor, whose parental rights are to be relinquished;

(2) witnessed by two credible persons; and

(3) verified before a person authorized to take oaths.

(b) The affidavit must contain:

(1) the name, county of residence, and age of the parent whose

parental rights are being relinquished;

(2) the name, age, and birth date of the child;

(3) the names and addresses of the guardians of the person and

estate of the child, if any;

(4) a statement that the affiant is or is not presently

obligated by court order to make payments for the support of the

child;

(5) a full description and statement of value of all property

owned or possessed by the child;

(6) an allegation that termination of the parent-child

relationship is in the best interest of the child;

(7) one of the following, as applicable:

(A) the name and county of residence of the other parent;

(B) a statement that the parental rights of the other parent

have been terminated by death or court order; or

(C) a statement that the child has no presumed father;

(8) a statement that the parent has been informed of parental

rights and duties;

(9) a statement that the relinquishment is revocable, that the

relinquishment is irrevocable, or that the relinquishment is

irrevocable for a stated period of time;

(10) if the relinquishment is revocable, a statement in

boldfaced type concerning the right of the parent signing the

affidavit to revoke the relinquishment only if the revocation is

made before the 11th day after the date the affidavit is

executed;

(11) if the relinquishment is revocable, the name and address of

a person to whom the revocation is to be delivered; and

(12) the designation of a prospective adoptive parent, the

Department of Family and Protective Services, if the department

has consented in writing to the designation, or a licensed

child-placing agency to serve as managing conservator of the

child and the address of the person or agency.

(c) The affidavit may contain:

(1) a waiver of process in a suit to terminate the parent-child

relationship filed under this chapter or in a suit to terminate

joined with a petition for adoption; and

(2) a consent to the placement of the child for adoption by the

Department of Protective and Regulatory Services or by a licensed

child-placing agency.

(d) A copy of the affidavit shall be provided to the parent at

the time the parent signs the affidavit.

(e) The relinquishment in an affidavit that designates the

Department of Protective and Regulatory Services or a licensed

child-placing agency to serve as the managing conservator is

irrevocable. A relinquishment in any other affidavit of

relinquishment is revocable unless it expressly provides that it

is irrevocable for a stated period of time not to exceed 60 days

after the date of its execution.

(f) A relinquishment in an affidavit of relinquishment of

parental rights that fails to state that the relinquishment is

irrevocable for a stated time is revocable as provided by Section

161.1035.

(g) To revoke a relinquishment under Subsection (e) the parent

must sign a statement witnessed by two credible persons and

verified before a person authorized to take oaths. A copy of the

revocation shall be delivered to the person designated in the

affidavit. If a parent attempting to revoke a relinquishment

under this subsection has knowledge that a suit for termination

of the parent-child relationship has been filed based on the

parent’s affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights, the

parent shall file a copy of the revocation with the clerk of the

court.

(h) The affidavit may not contain terms for limited

post-termination contact between the child and the parent whose

parental rights are to be relinquished as a condition of the

relinquishment of parental rights.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20,

1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 69, eff.

Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 561, Sec. 9, eff. Sept.

1, 1997; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 561, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1,

2003.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch.

1283, Sec. 5, eff. September 1, 2007.

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch.

1412, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2007.

Sec. 161.1031. MEDICAL HISTORY REPORT. (a) A parent who signs

an affidavit of voluntary relinquishment of parental rights under

Section 161.103 regarding a biological child must also prepare a

medical history report that addresses the medical history of the

parent and the parent’s ancestors.

(b) The Department of Family and Protective Services, in

cooperation with the Department of State Health Services, shall

adopt a form that a parent may use to comply with this section.

The form must be designed to permit a parent to identify any

medical condition of the parent or the parent’s ancestors that

could indicate a predisposition for the child to develop the

condition.

(c) The medical history report shall be used in preparing the

health, social, educational, and genetic history report required

by Section 162.005 and shall be made available to persons granted

access under Section 162.006 in the manner provided by that

section.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch.

1258, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2005.

Sec. 161.1035. REVOCABILITY OF CERTAIN AFFIDAVITS. An affidavit

of relinquishment of parental rights that fails to state that the

relinquishment or waiver is irrevocable for a stated time is:

(1) revocable only if the revocation is made before the 11th day

after the date the affidavit is executed; and

(2) irrevocable on or after the 11th day after the date the

affidavit is executed.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 561, Sec. 10, eff. Sept. 1,

1997.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch.

1283, Sec. 6, eff. September 1, 2007.

Sec. 161.104. RIGHTS OF DESIGNATED MANAGING CONSERVATOR PENDING

COURT APPOINTMENT. A person, licensed child-placing agency, or

authorized agency designated managing conservator of a child in

an irrevocable or unrevoked affidavit of relinquishment has a

right to possession of the child superior to the right of the

person executing the affidavit, the right to consent to medical,

surgical, dental, and psychological treatment of the child, and

the rights and duties given by Chapter 153 to a possessory

conservator until such time as these rights and duties are

modified or terminated by court order.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20,

1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 70, eff.

Sept. 1, 1995.

Sec. 161.106. AFFIDAVIT OF WAIVER OF INTEREST IN CHILD. (a) A

man may sign an affidavit disclaiming any interest in a child and

waiving notice or the service of citation in any suit filed or to

be filed affecting the parent-child relationship with respect to

the child.

(b) The affidavit may be signed before the birth of the child.

(c) The affidavit shall be:

(1) signed by the man, whether or not a minor;

(2) witnessed by two credible persons; and

(3) verified before a person authorized to take oaths.

(d) The affidavit may contain a statement that the affiant does

not admit being the father of the child or having had a sexual

relationship with the mother of the child.

(e) An affidavit of waiver of interest in a child may be used in

a suit in which the affiant attempts to establish an interest in

the child. The affidavit may not be used in a suit brought by

another person, licensed child-placing agency, or authorized

agency to establish the affiant’s paternity of the child.

(f) A waiver in an affidavit under this section is irrevocable.

(g) Repealed by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1283, Sec. 13,

eff. September 1, 2007.

(h) Repealed by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1283, Sec. 13,

eff. September 1, 2007.

(i) A copy of the affidavit shall be provided to the person who

executed the affidavit at the time the person signs the

affidavit.

(j) Repealed by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1283, Sec. 13,

eff. September 1, 2007.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20,

1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 561, Sec. 11, eff.

Sept. 1, 1997.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch.

1283, Sec. 7, eff. September 1, 2007.

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch.

1283, Sec. 13, eff. September 1, 2007.

Sec. 161.107. MISSING PARENT OR RELATIVE. (a) In this section:

(1) “Parent” means a parent, as defined by Section 160.102,

whose parent-child relationship with a child has not been

terminated. The term does not include a man who does not have a

parent-child relationship established under Chapter 160.

(2) “Relative” means a parent, grandparent, or adult sibling or

child.

(b) If a parent of the child has not been personally served in a

suit in which the Department of Family and Protective Services

seeks termination, the department must make a diligent effort to

locate that parent.

(c) If a parent has not been personally served and cannot be

located, the department shall make a diligent effort to locate a

relative of the missing parent to give the relative an

opportunity to request appointment as the child’s managing

conservator.

(d) If the department is not able to locate a missing parent or

a relative of that parent and sufficient information is available

concerning the physical whereabouts of the parent or relative,

the department shall request the state agency designated to

administer a statewide plan for child support to use the parental

locator service established under 42 U.S.C. Section 653 to

determine the location of the missing parent or relative.

(e) The department shall be required to provide evidence to the

court to show what actions were taken by the department in making

a diligent effort to locate the missing parent and relative of

the missing parent.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20,

1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 71, eff.

Sept. 1, 1995.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch.

1283, Sec. 8, eff. September 1, 2007.

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch.

1283, Sec. 9, eff. September 1, 2007.

Sec. 161.108. RELEASE OF CHILD FROM HOSPITAL OR BIRTHING CENTER.

(a) Before or at the time an affidavit of relinquishment of

parental rights under Section 161.103 is executed, the mother of

a newborn child may authorize the release of the child from the

hospital or birthing center to a licensed child-placing agency,

the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, or another

designated person.

(b) A release under this section must be:

(1) executed in writing;

(2) witnessed by two credible adults; and

(3) verified before a person authorized to take oaths.

(c) A hospital or birthing center shall comply with the terms of

a release executed under this section without requiring a court

order.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 561, Sec. 12, eff. Sept. 1,

1997.

Sec. 161.109. REQUIREMENT OF PATERNITY REGISTRY CERTIFICATE.

(a) If a parent-child relationship does not exist between the

child and any man, a certificate from the bureau of vital

statistics signed by the registrar that a diligent search has

been made of the paternity registry maintained by the bureau and

that a registration has not been found pertaining to the father

of the child in question must be filed with the court before a

trial on the merits in the suit for termination may be held.

(b) In a proceeding to terminate parental rights in which the

alleged or probable father has not been personally served with

citation or signed an affidavit of relinquishment or an affidavit

of waiver of interest, the court may not terminate the parental

rights of the alleged or probable father, whether known or

unknown, unless a certificate from the bureau of vital statistics

signed by the registrar states that a diligent search has been

made of the paternity registry maintained by the bureau and that

a filing or registration has not been found pertaining to the

father of the child in question.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 561, Sec. 12, eff. Sept. 1,

1997.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch.

1283, Sec. 10, eff. September 1, 2007.

SUBCHAPTER C. HEARING AND ORDER

Sec. 161.2011. CONTINUANCE; ACCESS TO CHILD. (a) A parent

whose rights are subject to termination in a suit affecting the

parent-child relationship and against whom criminal charges are

filed that directly relate to the grounds for which termination

is sought may file a motion requesting a continuance of the final

trial in the suit until the criminal charges are resolved. The

court may grant the motion only if the court finds that a

continuance is in the best interest of the child. Notwithstanding

any continuance granted, the court shall conduct status and

permanency hearings with respect to the child as required by

Chapter 263 and shall comply with the dismissal date under

Section 263.401.

(b) Nothing in this section precludes the court from issuing

appropriate temporary orders as authorized in this code.

(c) The court in which a suit to terminate the parent-child

relationship is pending may render an order denying a parent

access to a child if the parent is indicted for criminal activity

that constitutes a ground for terminating the parent-child

relationship under Section 161.001. The denial of access under

this section shall continue until the date the criminal charges

for which the parent was indicted are resolved and the court

renders an order providing for access to the child by the parent.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1022, Sec. 61, eff. Sept. 1,

1997. Amended by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1090, Sec. 3, eff.

Sept. 1, 2001.

Sec. 161.202. PREFERENTIAL SETTING. In a termination suit,

after a hearing, the court shall grant a motion for a

preferential setting for a final hearing on the merits filed by a

party to the suit or by the amicus attorney or attorney ad litem

for the child and shall give precedence to that hearing over

other civil cases if:

(1) termination would make the child eligible for adoption; and

(2) discovery has been completed or sufficient time has elapsed

since the filing of the suit for the completion of all necessary

and reasonable discovery if diligently pursued.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20,

1995. Amended by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 133, Sec. 5, eff.

Sept. 1, 2001.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch.

172, Sec. 19, eff. September 1, 2005.

Sec. 161.2021. MEDICAL HISTORY REPORT. (a) In a termination

suit, the court shall order each parent before the court to

provide information regarding the medical history of the parent

and the parent’s ancestors.

(b) A parent may comply with the court’s order under this

section by completing the medical history report form adopted by

the Department of Family and Protective Services under Section

161.1031.

(c) If the Department of Family and Protective Services is a

party to the termination suit, the information provided under

this section must be maintained in the department records

relating to the child and made available to persons with whom the

child is placed.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch.

1258, Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2005.

Sec. 161.203. DISMISSAL OF PETITION. A suit to terminate may

not be dismissed nor may a nonsuit be taken unless the dismissal

or nonsuit is approved by the court. The dismissal or nonsuit

approved by the court is without prejudice.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20,

1995. Amended by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1090, Sec. 4, eff.

Sept. 1, 2001.

Sec. 161.204. TERMINATION BASED ON AFFIDAVIT OF WAIVER OF

INTEREST. In a suit for termination, the court may render an

order terminating the parent-child relationship between a child

and a man who has signed an affidavit of waiver of interest in

the child, if the termination is in the best interest of the

child.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20,

1995. Amended by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1090, Sec. 5, eff.

Sept. 1, 2001.

Sec. 161.205. ORDER DENYING TERMINATION. If the court does not

order termination of the parent-child relationship, the court

shall:

(1) deny the petition; or

(2) render any order in the best interest of the child.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20,

1995. Amended by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1090, Sec. 6, eff.

Sept. 1, 2001.

Sec. 161.206. ORDER TERMINATING PARENTAL RIGHTS. (a) If the

court finds by clear and convincing evidence grounds for

termination of the parent-child relationship, it shall render an

order terminating the parent-child relationship.

(b) Except as provided by Section 161.2061, an order terminating

the parent-child relationship divests the parent and the child of

all legal rights and duties with respect to each other, except

that the child retains the right to inherit from and through the

parent unless the court otherwise provides.

(c) Nothing in this chapter precludes or affects the rights of a

biological or adoptive maternal or paternal grandparent to

reasonable access under Chapter 153.

(d) An order rendered under this section must include a finding

that:

(1) a request for identification of a court of continuing,

exclusive jurisdiction has been made as required by Section

155.101; and

(2) all parties entitled to notice, including the Title IV-D

agency, have been notified.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20,

1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 709, Sec. 2, eff.

Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 72, eff. Sept.

1, 1995; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 561, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1,

2003.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch.

972, Sec. 44, eff. September 1, 2007.

Sec. 161.2061. TERMS REGARDING LIMITED POST-TERMINATION CONTACT.

(a) If the court finds it to be in the best interest of the

child, the court may provide in an order terminating the

parent-child relationship that the biological parent who filed an

affidavit of voluntary relinquishment of parental rights under

Section 161.103 shall have limited post-termination contact with

the child as provided by Subsection (b) on the agreement of the

biological parent and the Department of Protective and Regulatory

Services.

(b) The order of termination may include terms that allow the

biological parent to:

(1) receive specified information regarding the child;

(2) provide written communications to the child; and

(3) have limited access to the child.

(c) The terms of an order of termination regarding limited

post-termination contact may be enforced only if the party

seeking enforcement pleads and proves that, before filing the

motion for enforcement, the party attempted in good faith to

resolve the disputed matters through mediation.

(d) The terms of an order of termination under this section are

not enforceable by contempt.

(e) The terms of an order of termination regarding limited

post-termination contact may not be modified.

(f) An order under this section does not:

(1) affect the finality of a termination order; or

(2) grant standing to a parent whose parental rights have been

terminated to file any action under this title other than a

motion to enforce the terms regarding limited post-termination

contact until the court renders a subsequent adoption order with

respect to the child.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 561, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1,

2003.

Sec. 161.2062. PROVISION FOR LIMITED CONTACT BETWEEN BIOLOGICAL

PARENT AND CHILD. (a) An order terminating the parent-child

relationship may not require that a subsequent adoption order

include terms regarding limited post-termination contact between

the child and a biological parent.

(b) The inclusion of a requirement for post-termination contact

described by Subsection (a) in a termination order does not:

(1) affect the finality of a termination or subsequent adoption

order; or

(2) grant standing to a parent whose parental rights have been

terminated to file any action under this title after the court

renders a subsequent adoption order with respect to the child.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 561, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1,

2003.

Sec. 161.207. APPOINTMENT OF MANAGING CONSERVATOR ON

TERMINATION. (a) If the court terminates the parent-child

relationship with respect to both parents or to the only living

parent, the court shall appoint a suitable, competent adult, the

Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, a licensed

child-placing agency, or an authorized agency as managing

conservator of the child. An agency designated managing

conservator in an unrevoked or irrevocable affidavit of

relinquishment shall be appointed managing conservator.

(b) The order of appointment may refer to the docket number of

the suit and need not refer to the parties nor be accompanied by

any other papers in the record.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20,

1995.

Sec. 161.208. APPOINTMENT OF DEPARTMENT OF PROTECTIVE AND

REGULATORY SERVICES AS MANAGING CONSERVATOR. If a parent of the

child has not been personally served in a suit in which the

Department of Protective and Regulatory Services seeks

termination, the court that terminates a parent-child

relationship may not appoint the Department of Protective and

Regulatory Services as permanent managing conservator of the

child unless the court determines that:

(1) the department has made a diligent effort to locate a

missing parent who has not been personally served and a relative

of that parent; and

(2) a relative located by the department has had a reasonable

opportunity to request appointment as managing conservator of the

child or the department has not been able to locate the missing

parent or a relative of the missing parent.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20,

1995.

Sec. 161.209. COPY OF ORDER OF TERMINATION. A copy of an order

of termination rendered under Section 161.206 is not required to

be mailed to parties as provided by Rules 119a and 239a, Texas

Rules of Civil Procedure.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20,

1995.

Sec. 161.210. SEALING OF FILE. The court, on the motion of a

party or on the court’s own motion, may order the sealing of the

file, the minutes of the court, or both, in a suit for

termination.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20,

1995.

Sec. 161.211. DIRECT OR COLLATERAL ATTACK ON TERMINATION ORDER.

(a) Notwithstanding Rule 329, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure,

the validity of an order terminating the parental rights of a

person who has been personally served or who has executed an

affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights or an affidavit of

waiver of interest in a child or whose rights have been

terminated under Section 161.002(b) is not subject to collateral

or direct attack after the sixth month after the date the order

was signed.

(b) Notwithstanding Rule 329, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure,

the validity of an order terminating the parental rights of a

person who is served by citation by publication is not subject to

collateral or direct attack after the sixth month after the date

the order was signed.

(c) A direct or collateral attack on an order terminating

parental rights based on an unrevoked affidavit of relinquishment

of parental rights or affidavit of waiver of interest in a child

is limited to issues relating to fraud, duress, or coercion in

the execution of the affidavit.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 600, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1,

1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 601, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1390, Sec. 19, eff. Sept. 1,

1999.