Monday, June 9, 2014

"Child Abandonment" in Texas

I receive a lot of emails from people wanting to know about "child abandonment".

If you look in the Texas Family Code - there is no topic for "child abandonment".
There are topics for - child abuse, child custody, child support, etc.

Below are some of my most frequent answers to this broad topic:

1.  One parent leaves the child with the other parent - After 6 months of a voluntary relinquent by one parent to the other parent , the parent that has possession of the child can file in court to modify custody.

Plus, if there is an "emergency" situation, such as the custodial parent goes to jail or some sort of other crisis, the parent without custody can file an Emergency Motion to Modify that includes a notarized affidavit as to why they should have custody.  I recommend hiring an attorney to handle an emergency situation.

You cannot "hide" the child for 6 months and then try to file for custody.  People try to do this all the time. Judges do NOT like this!

2.  The parents are not married & the man is not listed on the birth certificate - This man is a "stranger" to the child.  He has no "rights" to the child.  He needs to file a lawsuit called "Suit to Establish Paternity" in order to get a legal relationship established with this child.  Child support and visitation will be addressed in this lawsuit. DNA testing should be done at the beginning of this lawsuit to confirm that he is the biological father of this child.

3.  The parents were never married and now they are separated - If there are no court orders regarding this child, then a lawsuit needs to be filed to address child support and visitation.

4.  How long can a male parent try to establish his parental rights? Until the child turns 18.

5.  Non-parents raising child - After 6 months, you have standing to file a lawsuit asking for custody of this child.  You do not want "guardianship" in Texas - you want "custody".  Guardianship is a probate matter and you will have to regularly keep the probate court informed as to the status of the child - this is expensive and time-consuming - you don't want to do this type of lawsuit.

6.  Grandparents & other relatives in Texas - Grandparents  and other relatives have limited rights. I would look under the Texas Family Code Section 153 - Subchapter G and H - Appointment of a Nonparent as Conservator and Rights of Grandparent, Aunt or Uncle to begin your search.

Above are just some of the most common questions regarding minor children (under age of 18 in Texas) and child abandonment.


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  2. What if a neighbor gave me their kids to care for and now will not respond nor offer any financial compensation at 90+days?