Family Law and You
If you are considering a divorce or if you are contemplating separating from your current partner and have never been married, there are many issues that need to be considered. During the next several weeks, I will post my thoughts and opinions on some of the issues I believe, as a family law attorney, that you should recognize and give serious thought.
When you are talking about a petition for divorce or a suit affecting the parent-child relationship and there are one or more children involved, it is important to know who can file an original lawsuit. The Texas Family Code is relatively clear on this topic. Under section 102.003 GENERAL STANDING TO FILE SUIT, the code states:
(a) an original suit may be filed at any time by;
(1) a parent of the child; (2) the child through a representative authorized by the court; (3) a custodian or person having the right of visitation with or access to the child appointed by an order of a court of another state or country; (4) a guardian of the person or of the estate of the child; (5) a governmental entity; (6) an authorized agency; (7) a l licensed child placing agency; (8) a man alleging himself to be the father of a child filing in accordance with Chapter 160, subject to the limitations of that chapter, but not otherwise; (9) a person, other than a foster parent, who has had actual care, control and possession of the child for at least six months ending not more thant 90 days preceding the date of the filing of the petition; (10) a person designated as the managing conservator in a revoked or un-revoked affidavit of relinquishment under Chapter 161 or to whom consent to adoption has been given in writing under Chapter 162; (11) a person with whom the child and the child's guardian, managing conservator or parent have resided for at least six months ending not more than 90 days preceding the date of the filing of the petition if the child's guardian, managing conservator, or parent is deceased at the time of the filing of the petition; (12) a person who is the foster parent of a child placed by the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services in the person's home for at least 12 months ending not more than 90 days preceding the date of the filing of the petition; (13) a person who is a relative of the child within the third degree by consanguinity, as determined by chapter 573, Government Code, if the child's parents are deceased at the time of the filing of the petition; or (14) a person who has been named as a prospective adoptive parent of a child by a pregnant woman or the parent of the child, in a verified written statement to confer standing executed under Section 102.0035, regardless of whether the child has been born.
(b) In computing the time necessary for standing under Subsections (a) (9), (11) and (12), the court may not require that the time be continuous and uninterrupted but shall consider the child's principal residence during the relevant time preceding the date of commencement of the suit.
(c) Notwithstanding the time requirements of Subsection (a) (12), a person who is the foster parent of a child may file a suit to adopt a child for whom the person is providing foster care at any time after the person has been approved to adopt the child. The standing to file suit under this subsection applies only to the adoption of a child who is eligible to be adopted.
The Code may provide for different or extended requirements for standing for an original petition filed by grandparents, a sibling or for a suit seeking termination and adoption. Case law may also play a part when considering who is eligible to file a lawsuit involving children.
If you have concerns about whether or not a party has a right to file a lawsuit under the Texas Family Code you should contact an attorney. If you are a grandparent of a child and anticipate any legal issues regarding your right of visitation and/or access to your grandchild, time can be of the essence and what you do not know, can hurt you.
Next: Grandparents rights