Grandparents, Relatives, and Other Persons
Whether you are a grandparent, other family member, or caregiver of a child, you want to ensure that the children in your life are cared and provided for. In Texas, Grandparents and other persons have very limited rights to child custody or visitation. But, when the need arises, our experienced child custody attorneys can help you to understand your rights as a relative related to custody, managing conservatorship, termination of parental rights, and adoption.
How Texas Courts Can Help Grandparents
Sometimes tragedies occur, making parents unavailable to care for their children. If the biological parents are unfit to properly care for their children due to addiction and substance abuse, incarceration, mental health issues or have created an environment of abuse or neglect, you may wish to step in and take responsibility for the children. Other times, relatives find themselves caring for children who are orphaned or abandoned. Texas law provides options for relatives who need to have legal rights to care for kids.
The Texas courts must account for the “best interests of a child” when deciding where to place a child. Even if you have been the primary caregiver for a significant period of time, the courts can opt to place a child with another family member or foster family. So, relatives need to know their options in establishing conservatorship, or the legal right to care for a child. You need to prove to the court that the bests interests of your grandchildren include placement in your care.
However, Texas Courts prioritize relatives for child custody. A family court can make you a child’s guardian or conservator. They can order evaluations of the parents and other caregivers and appoint counselors or experts to help protect children. A Texas judge can restrict a child’s movement, approve medical care, and determine educational matters.
Asserting Your Rights As A Grandparent or Relative of a Child
Grandparents and other relatives can sue for child custody.Child custody suits can occur privately or through CPS cases. Although you have options for asserting your rights, the laws regarding grandparents' rights are extremely complex. Our attorneys can provide you with clear interpretations of the laws and explain how they apply to your situation. Depending on the circumstances of your case, we can help you pursue termination of the biological parents' rights, gain custody and, in some cases, complete an adoption of your grandchildren.
Asserting Your Rights As A Caregiver
When relatives, or even non-relatives, have served as caregivers for a child, they have rights in Texas. Managing conservators, the people who have legal authority to make decisions for a child, have rights that include:
- Child Support from biological parents
- Making medical decisions
- Determining the primary residence of the child
- Guiding the child’s moral and religious upbringing
- Education choices
Some caregivers may be “possessory conservators” with the right to visitation and access to a child. Possessory conservators also have the right to be consulted regarding major decisions in a child’s life.
Standing for Grandparents and Other Persons
In Texas, to sue for child custody or conservatorship, you must have “standing.” Standing is the right to sue regarding a child. Only certain people can gain standing, and only in certain circumstances. Standing in Texas family law is highly technical. You will need an experienced family lawyer to help you determine if you have standing.
A few ways to have standing in a child custody case are:
- Having a court ordered relationship with the child
- Through a governmental entity such as CPS
- Through an adoption agency or foster agency
- Having actual care, custody and control of a child for at least 6 months within the last 90 days
- When the child’s parents are deceased, if you are a relative within three degrees of consanguinity
- If you are a Foster Parent
- With a statement from the parents, or, in some cases, the mother alone
- If your suit is necessary because the child’s present circumstances would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional well-being
Texas law on standing to sue for child custody, conservatorship, and visitation changes frequently and is very complicated. Often, the timing of your suit determines if you can sue. In many cases, a judge will be required to make factual determinations regarding the child’s safety before you can request visitation or custody.
We Give You Options In CPS And Other Family Law Matters
Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda PLLC’s experienced family lawyers help grandparents and other family members in San Antonio and throughout Texas assert their rights in CPS or in other family law cases. We have successfully represented uncles, aunts, grandparents, and even close friends, called “fictive kin,” establish custodial rights over children.
To assert your rights as a grandparent or other family member, contact our San Antonio law office to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help. Call 210-222-9132 or take a moment to complete our online contact form.