Unregulated Custody Transfers of Adopted Children - Texas

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Definitions

Citation: Pen. Code § 25.081

The term 'adopted child' means a person younger than age 18 who was legally adopted through a governmental entity or through private means, including a person who was in foster care or from a foreign country at the time of the adoption.

The term 'unregulated custody transfer' means the transfer of the permanent physical custody of an adopted child by the parent, managing conservator, or guardian of the child without receiving approval of the transfer by a court as required by § 162.026, Family Code.

Prohibited or Required Actions Regarding Custody

Citation: Fam. Code § 162.026; Pen. Code § 25.081

A parent, managing conservator, or guardian of an adopted child may not transfer permanent physical custody of the child to any person who is not a relative or stepparent of the child or an adult who has a significant and long-standing relationship with the child, unless either of the following apply:

  • The parent, managing conservator, or guardian files a petition with a court of competent jurisdiction requesting a transfer of custody.
  • The court approves the petition.

Except as otherwise provided by this section, a person commits an offense if the person knowingly does either of the following:

  • Conducts an unregulated custody transfer of an adopted child
  • Facilitates or participates in the unregulated custody transfer of an adopted child, including by transferring, recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, soliciting, or obtaining an adopted child for that purpose

Exceptions

Citation: Pen. Code § 25.081

This section does not apply to any of the following:

  • The placement of an adopted child with a licensed child-placing agency; the Department of Family and Protective Services; or an adult relative, stepparent, or other adult with a significant and long-standing relationship to the child
  • The placement of an adopted child by a licensed child-placing agency or the Department of Family and Protective Services
  • The temporary placement of an adopted child by the child's parent, managing conservator, or guardian for a designated short-term period with a specified intent and period for return of the child due to temporary circumstances, including the following:
    • A vacation
    • A school-sponsored function or activity
    • The incarceration, military service, medical treatment, or incapacity of the parent, managing conservator, or guardian
  • The placement of an adopted child in another State in accordance with the requirements of subchapter B, chapter 162, Family Code (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children)
  • The voluntary delivery of an adopted child under subchapter D, chapter 262, Family Code (relinquishment of an infant to an emergency services provider)

Consequences

Citation: Pen. Code § 25.081

An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree. The offense becomes a felony of the second degree if the actor commits the offense with intent to commit an offense under § 20A.02 (trafficking of persons), 43.021 (prostitution), 43.05 (compelling prostitution), 43.25 (sexual performance by a child), 43.251 (employment harmful to children), or 43.26 (possession or promotion of child pornography).