Time line of Ann's case
If this could happen to Ann, it can happen to our children
October 8, 2016
Ann’s mother and father, then separated, agreed to a schedule of approximately 50/50 custody of Ann. Ann spent approximately half her time with each parent.
Ann’s mother moved in with her boyfriend. Because Ann lived approximately half of the time with her mother, over the next 11 months Ann spent approximately 5-6 months living in the same house with her mother’s boyfriend.
July 11, 2018
Ann’s mother died in a tragic car accident. She and her boyfriend had become engaged 3 months before.
Ann lived with her father, Chris, full-time.
July 27, 2018
Chris’ inlaws, the maternal grandparents of Ann, filed an intervening lawsuit seeking joint-custody of Ann with Chris. Chris had always allowed his in-laws a significant role in Ann’s life.
August 29, 2018
The boyfriend-turned-fiancé of Ann’s mother filed an intervening lawsuit seeking joint-custody of Ann.
November 20, 2018
The trial court denied Chris’ request to have the lawsuits by the fiancé and the grandparents dismissed.
December 11, 2018
Chris filed an emergency appeal (known as a mandamus) in the Fort Worth Court of appeals, arguing that the trial judge had improperly allowed the lawsuits against Chris to continue.read more
The Court of Appeals granted Chris’ appeal related to the grandparents. The court found that Chris was a fit father and that, because the grandparents had been unable to prove he was unfit, the grandparents would not be allowed to seek custody of Ann.
However, the Court of Appeals denied Chris’ request to have the lawsuit by the fiance dismissed. The court argued that, although the grandparents were required to prove Chris was unfit before obtaining custody of Ann, the fiancé, who was not related to Ann, should not be required to do so. On this basis, the court held that the fiance’s lawsuit should be allowed to go forward.
May 8, 2019
Even though all parties in the case agreed that Chris was an entirely fit father, the trial court granted the fiance joint-custody of Ann. The court gave the fiancé the right to access Ann’s medical and school records, read more the right to make certain medical decisions for Ann, and the right to have Ann stay with him various days and nights per month.
The court also ordered that Chris and the fiancé would be required to share otherwise private information about Ann with each other.
July 9, 2019
Chris filed another emergency appeal (a mandamus) with the Fort Worth Court of Appeals. Chris argued that the trial court’s decision to allow the fiancé joint-custody of Ann, without offering any evidence that read more Chris was an unfit parent, was a violation of Chris’ constitutional rights as a parent.
The Fort Worth Court of Appeals denied Chris’ request without comment.
August 12, 2019
Chris filed an emergency appeal (a mandamus) with the Texas Supreme Court, arguing that his constitutional rights as a parent had been violated by the trial court’s grant of joint custody to the fiancé.
August 13, 2019
The Texas Public Policy Foundation filed an amicus brief in the case, arguing that Chris has the constitutional right to raise his daughter, Ann, and that the trial court’s grant of custody to the read more fiancé over Chris’ objections was a violation of Chris’ constitutional rights.
September 13, 2019
The fiancé filed a response to Chris’ argument. The fiancé argued in his brief that Chris’ status as Ann’s biological father should not give him any greater right to custody than the fiancé.
September 17, 2019
The Texas Home School Coalition filed an amicus brief in the case, arguing that the court was constitutionally required to assume that Chris was a fit parent. The brief further argued that the laws used by the fiancé read more to obtain joint-custody of Ann should be struck down as unconstitutional because of their failure to require that Chris be proven unfit before custody of his daughter could be given to another man.
The brief was co-signed by 14 Texas State legislators and 2 other statewide pro-family organizations.
September 19 -
October 4, 2019
Chris filed another brief with the Texas Supreme Court as a reply to the fiancé’s previous brief. Chris’ legal team argued in the brief that the fiancé was ignoring Chris’ constitutional right to raise his own daughter.read more
The fiancé then filed another response in the case arguing again that Chris’ constitutional rights did not prevent the fiance from obtaining joint-custody of Ann.
October 7, 2019
The Texas Supreme Court issued an order temporarily blocking the trial court’s grant of custody to the fiancé and requesting that Chris and the fiancé provide additional briefing to the court.
November 6 -
December 16, 2019
As requested, Chris filed an extended brief with the Texas Supreme Court arguing that his constitutional rights were violated when the trial court granted custody of Ann to the fiancé, a non-relative who had spent read more minimal time with Ann, even though Chris had been determined to be a fit parent.
The Parental Rights Foundation filed a brief in the case arguing that the court should protect Chris’ constitutional rights as a fit parent and outlining for the court the numerous other states who have similarly protected the constitutional rights of fit parents. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a brief in the case arguing that when the trial court granted custody of Ann to fiancé, it violated Chris’ rights under the United States and Texas constitutions.
The fiancé filed his extended brief in the case. In his brief, the fiancé argued that because Chris and Ann’s mother had once been involved in a child custody dispute as parents, they had effectively granted the court complete authority to overrule their rights as parents at any point in the future any time someone attempted to interfere with their parental rights. Chris filed a brief replying to the fiancé. Chris argued in his brief that it was absurd to claim that just because he and Ann’s mother had once been through a custody dispute that they had forever given up their parental rights to the court, allowing future parties like fiancé to obtain custody of their daughter.
A Voice for Choice Advocacy filed a brief in the case. The brief argued that Chris has a fundamental, constitutional right to raise Ann and that the court should use the highest level of scrutiny when evaluating whether actions burdening that right are valid.
The Texas Attorney General, on behalf of the State of Texas, submitted a brief in the case. The Attorney General argued that Chris has a constitutional right to raise Ann and that the trial court had violated Chris’ rights by allowing the fiancé to obtain joint custody.
December 17, 2019 - March 16, 2020
The Texas Supreme Court scheduled the case to be heard on oral arguments on March 24, 2019. The hearing was subsequently postponed due to the coronavirus, and then rescheduled for April read more 22 to be hosted online via zoom.
March 26, 2020
Texas Values submitted a brief in the case. The brief argues that Chris has a constitutional right to raise Ann and the trial court’s order that granted the fiancé custody destroys the critical importance of the family unit.
April 6, 2020
The Family Law Council of the State Bar of Texas submitted a brief in the case arguing that the court should allow the fiancé to retain custody of Ann. The brief argued that because Chris and Ann were once read more involved in a custody dispute, they had forever given up their constitutional rights to raise Ann and that, if another person later requested custody, the court should have the authority to grant it.
April 21, 2020
The Texas Association of Family Defense Attorneys (TAFDA) filed a brief in the case responding to arguments raised by the Family Law Section of the State Bar. read more
In the brief, TAFDA describes as “absurd” the argument raised by the State Bar that Chris’ constitutional rights should not be protected in the case.
An attorney from Fort Worth also submitted an independent brief in the case, defending the father.
April 22, 2020
The Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case. The arguments were hosted online via zoom and live-streamed from the court’s YouTube page.