Filing A Suit That Affects Your Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR)?
If your relationship with your child or a child you have been caring for is in flux for any reason, you may find legal answers through a suit affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR).
To Protect A Child’s Best Interests In Special Family Circumstances
You may wonder how to protect your parental rights in view of the dissolution of the partnership with your child’s other parent (the “baby momma” or “baby daddy” of your child). You may be a grandparent, a stepparent, a foster parent or a family member or friend who has actual care, control and possession of a child. You may be a minor seeking access to a sibling who is in the custody of someone who is not your parent.
In any of these or similar circumstances, a SAPCR may be the best way to put the most appropriate legal protections in place for yourself and the child. A variety of circumstances may lead to a SAPCR, including:
- Separation of domestic partners who had children together but never married
- Separation of a husband and wife — father and mother — who do not intend to divorce yet
- Determination of child custody and visitation for parents who have never lived together
Formalization of a nurturing, care-giving relationship between a grandparent and a child or any other family member serving in a parental role
WHO CAN FILE UNDER SAPCR?
Texas family law code §102.003 establishes who has legal standing to bring a SAPCR. Many different parties in many different situations can file, including:
- The parent of a child;
- Someone with visitation rights to the child
- A guardian of the child;
- A man alleging paternity;
- A foster parent to the child;
- A blood relative in a case where the child’s parents are deceased;
- A grandparent who meets the standing requirement; and
- A government entity authorized by the state such as the Department of Family and Protective Services.
One exception is that a parent who has previously had their parental rights eliminated by a Texas court no longer has any SAPCR legal standing.
THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD STANDARD
In Texas there is a strong presumption in favor of decisions that keep both natural parents involved in the child’s daily life. When a court makes a determination in any SAPCR case, the best interest of the child standard will be the overriding legal principle. The Texas Supreme Court has established a set of factors, known as the Holley factors, that should be considered. The Holley factors include:
- The desires of the child;
- The current and future needs of the child;
- The current and future danger facing the child;
- The parental abilities of the individuals in question;
- Future plans for the child;
- The stability of the homes in question; and
- Any previous acts or omissions by a parent which may indicate their home is not a good one for the child.
The Holley factors are not an exclusive list. The Court can consider virtually anything relevant when deciding the best interest of a child. With so many factors for the Court to weigh, the best interest standard is naturally complex when it is applied to any real world scenario. If you find yourself in this situation, an experienced SAPCR attorney will know how to guide you through the process and will help you present your case.
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