Texas courts prefer that children remain with one or both of their parents. However, sometimes removing the child and placing him or her in the custody of a third party is a better solution. In some cases, the child may benefit from living with other family members.
According to the Texas Constitution and Statutes, the child’s best interests are the priority when determining conservatorship. Although the state agrees that parents have a fundamental right to make child-rearing decisions, if one or both are abusive or unstable, a non-parent can petition for conservatorship.
What is the basis for third-party custody?
When a non-parent files for conservatorship, it becomes more than asserting visitation rights. If you are a grandparent or other relative, it means committing to the child’s upbringing and everything that entails. For conservatorship, you must show that the parents don’t or can’t adequately care for their young child. Little ones often spend time with extended family. If you have established these bonds already, it may make obtaining custody easier.
What can you expect?
If other options have failed, you may believe going to court is the only alternative. One of the primary considerations before taking this route are the costs involved. Attorney fees, court costs and mediation are among the most common expenses. At the end of the process, your bill may be in the tens of thousands of dollars. You may also have to pay the other party’s legal fees if you lose your case.
Court proceedings are public record. If your case goes to court, your family drama is available for anyone who looks. In situations where the child may be in danger, social workers and child advocates become involved in the case, making more people aware of the issues. You, the child’s parents and other family members may also have to undergo psychological evaluations. The burden of proof is on you. This makes it critical that you understand the requirements for obtaining visitation rights or proving the parents are unfit.