Parents aren’t the only ones who deal with child custody issues. If you’re caring for a child who is not your biological or legal child, you may have questions about how to protect the child and your relationship with them. Texas law addresses, specifically, who can sue for custody of a child and the standard that person must meet to gain custody.
Who can have custody of a child?
In Texas, someone other than a parent of the child may have standing to file a suit for custody of a child. This includes:
- A person who has had actual care, control, and possession of the child for at least six months
- A man alleging paternity of the child
- A person who resided with the child and a recently deceased parent
- A foster parent
- A blood or adoptive relative within three degrees (this includes siblings, nieces/nephews, aunts/uncles, grandparents, and great-grandparents)
- A person who is an intended parent of a child under a proper gestational agreement
What is the standard for gaining custody of a child?
Conservatorship is a legal concept where a guardian is appointed by a judge to manage the financial affairs and/or daily life of a child; the standard that must be met to be granted conservatorship of a child differs based on who is bringing the suit. For instance, a relative must show that his or her request for custody of the child is necessary because the child’s present circumstances significantly impair their physical health or emotional development. Whether a child’s wellbeing is significantly impaired is determined by the court. Because meeting this standard can be difficult, it is important to retain a skilled attorney to help you navigate the situation.
If the child’s parents still have a legal relationship with the child, any non-parent bringing a custody suit must also show that giving custody of the child to the parent would significantly impair the physical health and emotional development of the child.
In any child custody case, the best interest of the child is the primary consideration. Regardless of who brings the suit, the court must always determine that the custody arrangement is in the child’s best interest. If you are the person asking the court for custody of a child, you must show that what you are requesting meets this standard. In deciding this, the court can consider who will best provide for the child’s physical, psychological, and emotional needs, the stability of the home, and many other factors.
While bringing a suit for custody of a child might often be the best solution, there may be some situations where adoption is the better option to create a legal relationship with the child. Consult with a family law attorney to discuss which solution best fits your needs.
What does legal custody mean?
In a suit for custody, the person filing asks to become the Managing Conservator of the child. If granted custody, you may become the Sole Managing Conservator or a Joint Managing Conservator of the child. As a Managing Conservator, you have specific rights and duties toward the child. If you are appointed a Joint Managing Conservator, you will share these rights and duties with the other conservator(s) of the child.
You will be entitled to possession of and access to the child, along with the right to direct the child’s moral and religious upbringing, designate the child’s primary residence, consent to medical treatment, make educational decisions, and more. You will also have the duty to care for, discipline, and support the child.
Nothing is more important than protecting a child you care for. If you have questions about non-parent child custody in Texas, please contact our office and schedule an appointment.