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Guiding Legal Principles


1.        CONSTITUTIONAL SUPREMACY: The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land; all state laws are subordinate to it; and any state law that exceeds its guarantees is no law at all. 

a.            RIGHTS ARE INDIVIDUAL: The rights guaranteed by the constitution to the people are individual rights that cannot depend upon marital status or changes in marital status between a child's parents. 

b.            BROAD AUTHORITY LIMITS: Broad grants of power under state family law statutes cannot authorize the infringement of constitutional guarantees. 

c.             RIGHTS ARE CIVIL RIGHTS: The rights guaranteed to the people against state action in the 14th Amendment are Individual Civil Rights and the Congress is authorized by Section 5 of that amendment to pass laws to enforce those Civil Rights. 

d.            FEDERAL REVIEW: State family law statutes and judicial actions are subject to federal constitutional review in the federal courts. 

2.        PARENTAL RIGHTS: Natural parents receive protection for their parental rights when they establish the parent-child relationship. 

a.            The source of these rights is the value we place on the natural parent-child relationship and the bonds of affection created by the biological relationship that serve to protect and nurture children. 

b.            Individuals with a credible claim of biological parentage have a right to prove that parentage through minimally invasive medical testing that is greater than any right of marital privacy. 

c.             Natural parents have a right to know that they have a biological child. 

d.            Natural parents have a right to establish a relationship with their biological child, superior to presumptive parentage through a marital relationship. 

3.        PARENTAL PRESUMPTION: The right of parents to be presumed fit and to be presumed to be acting in their child's best interest is the family law civil equivalent of the criminal principle asserting "all accused are innocent until proven guilty." 

a.            The state carries the burden of proof to overcome this presumption. 

4.        CHILD'S RIGHTS: Children have a right to know their biological parents and to the extent that the biological parent is willing, to have an equal parent-child relationship with that biological parent. 

a.            Much of the intimacy that close family relationships share is a result of similar or common genetics and the information conveyed in common genetic knowledge, experiences, and predictability of future conditions between family members is sufficiently vital to a child to warrant constitutional protection. 

b.            Children have a right to know their biological and genetic history and to benefit from that knowledge. 

c.             Children have a right to know their biological extended family and upon consent of the parent to have family relationships with biologically related people. 

i.  Parents retain authority to limit or end these relationships at their discretion as a protective right, as a core element of the right to direct the education in close family values, and as a right of parental control. 

d.            Children have the right to be in their fit parent's care, custody, and control and to benefit from parental decision making. 

i.  This includes the right to be protected by the parent from unwanted government intrusion into their personal lives. 

e.            Where it has been shown that a biological parent is able but unwilling to care for the child directly or through their own initiative, the child has a right to receive income sufficient to meet their minimum reasonable standard of care from that parent. 

 i.  The minimum standard of care duty is shared by both parents equally where both parents are living and the full duty may fall on one parent only if the other parent is no longer living or is incapable beyond their control. 

ii.  Where children receive assistance from the state in relation to their parent's duty to provide and related inability to provide, the child shall not be discriminated against because of the marital status of its parents to one another. 

5.        NO DISCRIMINATION BASED ON MARITAL STATUS: Marital status cannot be used to deny fundamental rights to parents or their children. 

a.            state infringement of individual parental rights incident to divorce is discrimination based on marital status. 

b.            state infringement of individual parental rights because parents never married is discrimination based on marital status. 

6.        PROTECTED CHOICES: People may not be punished or discriminated against based on the exercise of a constitutionally protected choice. 

a.            The individual decision to divorce is protected. 

b.            The individual decision to never marry is protected. 

c.             The individual decision to live separately from your child's other parent is protected. 

d.            The individual decision to establish a home is protected. 

e.            The individual decision to raise your child is protected. 

7.        HARM TO CHILDREN: The liberty guarantees of our constitution are equal to the task of protecting children both from parents who harm their own children and from government officials who harm our children.  

a.            The states retain awesome power to protect children from specific parental harm but must do so within constitutional limits. 

b.            The state retains its general authority to set minimum standards of health, safety, and welfare regarding children that are generally applicable to all children and all parents. 

c.             Depriving a child of their protected parent-child relationship with either parent is harm to the child which can be overcome only by proof that a parent is harming the child in an unlawful way to an unlawful degree under standards applicable to all parents. 

d.            Harm done to one parent-child relationship may not be overcome by benefits provided to the other parent-child relationship. 

i.  Taking the child from one parent and giving it to the other parent does not and cannot cure the harm done to the child and to the parent losing the child. 

8.        RIGHTS IN CONFLICT: A conflict of rights or a disagreement between fit parents regarding how to raise a child does not diminish the rights of either parent, nor does it provide a trigger for which the state may intervene in the private parent-child relationship or the decisions of a parent. 

a.            COMPELLING STATE INTEREST: The only sufficient trigger for state intervention into the private parent-child relationship is an affirmative showing in the record of a narrowly drawn compelling state interest that is necessary to be addressed. 

b.            PROTECTION OF RIGHTS: Each parent has a right to expect that courts will protect rights to the minimum degree required given the nature of each specific right at issue in any proceeding before the state acts on any asserted state interest including its opinion of a child's best interests. 

c.             BALANCING TEST: Parents have the right to expect the mandatory use of well-established balancing tests to establish the specific degree of protection all private rights at issue must receive in each fact specific case. 

i.  Mathews v. Eldridge sets the minimum standard. 

d.            STATE ACTORS: State court judges in civil actions between fit parents are state actors for the purpose of 14th Amendment constitutional guarantees 

e.             CLAIM OVER RIGHTS: No person has a claim over the rights of another person, including the other fit parent and including children over their parent's rights. 

f.            LEAST RESTRICTIVE MEANS: Each parent has a right to expect that the state may only infringe fundamental rights or invade the parent-child relationship using the least restrictive or least intrusive means available. 

i.  Use of least restrictive means is due to the supreme importance to the parents, to the child, and to society of the parent-child relationship and the benefits it provides to everyone in society.

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The National Family Law Policy Center is registering as a 501(c) non-profit organization. Corinth Texas 76210
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