Order Naming State as child’s Managing Conservator over Father Reversed for a New Trial

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On December 17, 2015, the Court of Appeals in Fort Wort, in In re S.T., held that the trial court abused its discretion by appointing the State as managing conservator of a child, and finding that the appointment of father as managing conservator would impair the child’s physical health and emotional development.

Father was notified of parentage while incarcerated. He originally petitioned to be managing conservator and in the alternative for DSPS to be the child’s managing conservator and name him the child’s possessory conservator. The trial court named DSPS managing conservator and named maternal grandmother possessory conservator and held that appointing father conservator would impair the Childs physical health and or emotional development.

Father appealed the finding and DSPS in response argued the invited error doctrine. The father’s stance that DSFS be named managing conservator and the maternal grandmother be named the possessory conservator was never unequivocally made certain, and father was allowed to appeal the holding.

The evidence showed that Father had schizophrenia and substance abuse problems. He was even arrested for selling heroine.

However, the court held that this evidence was too weak to overcome the presumption of appointing Father as managing conservator as in the best interest of the child and ordered a new trial to fully develop the record.

Justice Dauphinot dissented without issuing an opinion.