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What Are My Rights As a Stepparent in Texas?

 Posted on December 15, 2023 in Family Law

Blog ImageWithout legally adopting the child or children in a marriage, it is unlikely a court will award a stepparent child custody rights in Texas. However, it is not impossible. There are very limited circumstances where the court can award sole conservatorship to a non-parent so long as the non-parent meets several important conditions. For a more in-depth look into Texas child custody rights and privileges, you should reach out to an experienced family law attorney.

What is a Stepparent’s Role?

Stepparents can easily form strong attachments or bonds with the children in their care. Regardless of whether a child is not biologically theirs, a stepparent can become emotionally devastated by losing contact with a stepchild following a separation or divorce. It is also not surprising for a stepchild to grow close to a stepparent. In some cases, the stepparent may be the only mother or father figure they have ever known. This can make a stepparent a cornerstone in the development of a minor child and a major role model in the life of a child who is in early adolescence.

Eligibility To File For Child Conservatorship

A stepparent can file for custodial rights as long as they are eligible first. Before a stepparent can set the process in motion, they must meet certain conditions for eligibility. A non-parent, in this case, a stepparent, has to have certain “standing” in court to seek conservatorship of a child. If the stepparent has had care, control, and actual possession of the child for at least six months, they can file for conservatorship. However, this does not guarantee a stepparent will receive conservatorship for a child.

Conditions For a Stepparent Being Awarded Conservatorship

After a stepparent is considered eligible for conservatorship, the court will have to decide whether or not it is in the best interest of the child. The court will also require that at least one of the following criteria is met as well:

  • The child’s biological parents are no longer able to care for the child for at least one of any number of reasons

  • The parent is unfit to continue to raise their child

  • The court feels it is not in the child’s best interest for the parent to retain conservatorship

The “parent” in this case is the biological parent or adoptive parent that already has legal conservatorship of the child.

A stepparent who is awarded custody becomes the child’s conservator. Conservatorship grants the stepparent rights to major decisions regarding the child which include:

  • Where the child lives

  • Medical care

  • Education

Joint conservatorship is also possible, and may even be likely as Texas courts prefer a child to have two active and caring parents in their life. A joint conservatorship will have both parents responsible for the above decisions concerning the child’s life and well-being.

Contact a Galveston County, TX Family Law Attorney

As you can see, even stepparents can have rights to their stepchildren after a divorce or separation. A strong Galveston, TX child custody lawyer is a great tool to utilize when you are a stepparent in the same situation. Pick up the phone and dial 409-392-1511 to reach out to Daniel R. Bacalis, P.C. for a free consultation and discussion on how you can best receive conservator rights for your stepchildren.

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