The majority of child custody cases involve two parents who are struggling over the care and custody of their shared children. However, a wide variety of circumstances can bring an individual before a judge to argue for the right to raise a child. One recent high-profile child custody battle has left a man fighting to establish his parental rights in the aftermath of tragedy. The eventual outcome of the case is likely to impact fathers’ rights in Texas and beyond.
At the center of the case is a 54-year-old man whose live-in girlfriend gave birth to the couple’s first child in July 2012. The couple had attempted to conceive naturally, but when that was not possible sought the use of a sperm donor. A successful pregnancy followed, and the couple eagerly prepared for the arrival of their son.
Following the birth, the mother experiences severe postpartum depression. She made at least two attempts to end her own life, and was hospitalized in response. Upon being released the second time, she ended her life by jumping from the 14th floor of her apartment building. At the time of her death, the couple’s son was taken into protective custody by a Child Protective Services department. The father of the infant is currently fighting to regain custody of his son, as well as dealing with the loss of the woman he loved.
Within his petition, the man outlines the many ways in which he has acted as the father of this child. He does have a document in which the mother listed him as the child’s legal guardian, which may assist him in being reunited with the infant. In the meantime, he has expressed to the media a level of stress and emotional turmoil that he says is unendurable.
As this case demonstrates, individuals in Texas or across the nation can find themselves in need of family law services with no advance warning and outside of a divorce or separation. In unusual circumstances, the best course of action is to aggressively defend one’s parental rights to child custody. For this father, life will never be ‘normal’ again, but with the proper legal approach he may be able to retain the right to raise his son as he sees fit.
Source: DNAinfo.com, “Pfizer Exec Battles for Custody of Girlfriend’s Son After Her Suicide,” James Fanelli, Jan. 18, 2013