Filing a Suit Affecting Parent Child Relationship

Many times you will hear about divorce in connection with family law cases in Texas. I will say that the majority of people that walk through the door of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are interested in discussing a divorce with us, but there are other sorts of family law cases that our attorneys represent clients in.

One of those sorts of cases is called a Suit Affecting Parent Child Relationships, or SAPCR cases for brevity’s sake. These cases involve a child whose parents were never married. If this describes the situation that you find yourself in then this blog post should be helpful for you.

SAPCR cases deal with the same sort of rights and duties for children that a divorce would. Conservatorship, possession, access, and support of a child are all covered in a SAPCR case. If you would like to file a case for your child you would file it with the same court that you would a divorce and would have to serve your child’s other parent just as you would a spouse if you wanted to divorce him or her.

It is even possible for a married person to file a SAPCR against their spouse just to have orders established for these issues with their children. The marriage would remain in place but there would be court orders that pertained to their children in the event that issues arose between them.

What happens, though, if you are not a parent to a child and want to file a SAPCR case to have your own rights and duties established as to a child? Can you even do this? The answer to those questions will be discussed in today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. To start off, we will need to determine if you can file and have a court hear your case.

Standing in a SAPCR case

The Texas Family Code contains the laws that are applicable in a family law case brought in our state. There are multiple different situations that you can qualify under in order to bring a SAPCR case. Obviously, if you are a parent to the child you can bring a SAPCR case. A governmental body like Child Protective Services (CPS) can file a SAPCR case on behalf of a child as well.

We see this with some frequency (unfortunately) when it comes to situations where CPS has received word of a child who may be the victim or abuse or neglect. In this situation, CPS would need to file a SAPCR case in order to get temporary conservatorship rights over the child in order to remove him or her from the home.

A key to having standing to file a SAPCR case in Texas is having had control and care of the child for six months preceding the filing of the SAPCR case- so long as the six months ended no more than ninety days before the day that the SAPCR was filed.

This is important if you are an aunt, uncle or grandparent that has had to shoulder the responsibility of caring for the child or a relative. Likewise, if you are a step-parent and the child and the child’s biological parent have resided with you for the same time period you also may bring a SAPCR suit under this standing requirement.

Mom vs. Dad

By far the most common sort of SAPCR case involves you and the child’s other parent. If you are the mother of a child you may be interested in filing a SAPCR soon after the birth of your child in order to have the father legally recognized as the father of your child. This may take some genetic testing to be accomplished unless the father is willing to admit to paternity.

Once the father is established as a matter of law, you can have child support, possession, access and other rights and duties assigned within the final orders of your case. If you have friends or family members that have been through a divorce then their divorces likely covered the exact same areas for his or her children.

The only difference is that divorces cover aspects related to community property of spouses, as well as spousal support, while SAPCRs relate only to a child.

The Parental Presumption can hurt your chances to win conservatorship of a child

The actions of a parent are presumed to always be in the best interest of their child. With that said, if you are a relative like a grandparent then you have an uphill battle to fight in order to win conservatorship of a child in a SAPCR case. In that case, you must show that if a judge names the parent as a conservator of the child then the child’s health or emotional development will be significantly impaired.

The evidence that must be presented in court cannot be circumstantial or a “he said, she said” sort of thing, either. Rather, the evidence must be extremely specific and show a particular behavior in the parent that will cause harm to the child.

Basically, you cannot file your SAPCR and then expect to win conservatorship rights to a child based on a general idea that you would be the better parent to a child. That will not overcome the parental presumption and will cause you to have a negative outcome in your case.

Questions about SAPCR cases? Please contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today

If you are in a situation where you need to have orders established for a child but are not now and never were married to the other parent, you will need to file a SAPCR. To do so it is best to speak to an attorney to learn about your rights under Texas law. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan stand ready to meet with you to discuss the services that our office is able to provide to you in a SAPCR case.

A consultation with one of our family law attorneys is always free of charge and we are available to meet with you six days a week. Across southeast Texas, our attorneys have represented clients to successful results in SAPCR cases and we would be honored to speak to you about doing the same for you and your family.

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Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Houston, Texas Child Custody Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding child custody, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX child custody lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our child custody lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles child custody cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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