FIRST IMPRESSIONS–FAMILY LAW, Scope of a Court’s Discretion to Order Possessory Conservatorshi

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In Interest of M.I.A., No. 04-19-00227-CV, 2019 WL 5030241, at *9 (Tex. App.—San Antonio Oct. 9, 2019, no pet. h.), the 4th Court considered an appeal of a minor child in a parental-rights-termination proceeding who argued the trial court erred by denying CPS’s request to terminate the father’s parental rights. After holding the evidence supported the trial court’s denial of termination, the court addressed whether the trial court erred by giving the father possessory rights was an abuse of discretion.

“M.I.A. also complains that the trial court abused its discretion by sua sponte awarding visitation rights to Grandmother because there was no evidence to support an award of grandparent access under section 153.433 of the Family Code. Father responds that section 153.433 does not apply here. According to Father, because the trial court denied the petition to terminate his parental rights, it was required to render any order it believed to be in the child’s best interest.

Section 153.433 provides that in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR), a trial court “may order reasonable possession of or access to a grandchild by a grandparent if” a grandparent requesting possession or access makes certain showings. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 153.433. In contrast, section 161.205 provides that when a trial court declines to terminate a parent’s rights in a SAPCR brought by a governmental entity, the court “shall render any order in the best interest of the child.” Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.205.

The proper interaction, if any, between sections 153.433 and 161.205 appears to be a question of first impression. . . . Father argues that section 161.205 requires us to affirm the trial court’s order, and we agree.”

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