Note Regarding Suits to Terminate the Parent-Child Relationship
An important change to the rules regarding suits to terminate the parent-child relationship takes effect on May 1, 2020.
On January 8, 2020, the Texas Supreme Court issued an Order Amending Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 277 under Misc. Docket No. 20-9008. The order gave notice of a proposed amendment to Tex. R. Civ. P. 277 that would require certain specific findings in suits to terminate the parent-child relationship. The court finally approved the proposed change on April 14, 2020, under Misc. Docket No. 20-9056, Final Approval of Amendments to Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 277.
With these changes, beginning on May 1, 2020, suits to terminate the parent-child relationship will require separate jury questions for each parent and each child on (1) each individual statutory ground for termination of the parent-child relationship and (2) whether termination of the parent-child relationship is in the best interest of the child. The best-interest question must further be predicated on an affirmative finding of at least one termination ground.
Texas Bar Books and the State Bar of Texas PJC—Family & Probate Committee are working diligently to revise the pattern jury charges for suits to terminate the parent-child relationship, PJCs 218.1–218.3, and will issue new charges and comments to its customers as soon as possible.
In the meantime, practitioners are advised to refer to the supreme court orders for guidance on constructing jury charges in suits to terminate the parent-child relationship.