Please wear your detective hat and join us as we dive into the captivating world of Suits Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCRs). By the end of this wild adventure, you will have a firm grasp of the legal landscape and valuable insights to champion the well-being of children.
Unlike divorce cases encompassing all matters between spouses, SAPCR cases solely address issues concerning children. Learn the following steps to take when filing a SAPCR case:
File a Petition
An SAPCR is a legal process establishing custody, visitation, and child support. It is distinct from a divorce, which addresses many issues, including property division and spousal support. An experienced family law attorney can explain the differences and guide clients through the process.
So, how to file a SAPCR in Texas? In Texas, any parent or authorized person may file an SAPCR to request the court make orders regarding conservatorship, custody, visitation, and child support for children in their care. A non-parent can also have standing to file a SAPCR under certain circumstances. Foster parents may be eligible to do so as well.
A SAPCR is filed in the same court with continuing jurisdiction over a divorce case. This means that if the details of a SAPCR are ever modified, it must be done in the same court where the original judgment was signed. This will require a new petition to change the custody order, known as a Suit Modifying the Parent-Child Relationship (SMPCR). If both parties agree on the terms of the case, it can be finished relatively quickly and uncontested.
Serve the Other Party
Whether you seek custody, access, or visitation rights, you must serve the other party with notice that you are filing a SAPCR. A private processor often does this, but sometimes the court will appoint an attorney ad litem to search for the parent or conservator and serve them with the legal documents.
This is a critical step in the legal process and ensures that all parties have a fair chance to present their side of the story. The judge will evaluate the facts presented and make a decision that is in the child’s best interest.
While divorce cases often receive the most attention, family law encompasses various types of legal matters that do not involve the dissolution of a marriage. Suits affecting the parent-child relationship, or SAPCR, are one example and focus on establishing specific rights and duties involving children, such as conservatorship, possession, access, and child support. Our attorneys at The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, are well-versed in the process and will help you understand your standing.
Schedule a Hearing
A SAPCR is a type of petition filed in family court that asks the judge to issue custody, visitation, and child support orders. It is a standard part of a divorce that involves children. Still, it can also be a standalone proceeding if parents wish to address child-related issues without ending their marriage.
A judge in an SAPCR will consider the child’s best interests when making decisions about conservatorship, access, visitation, and support. This will include looking at how each parent can provide for the child’s needs and determining whether one parent has more of a parental relationship with the child than another.
Anyone concerned about the safety of a child can file a SAPCR. This could be a parent, grandparent, step-parent, guardian, or even a governmental body like Child Protective Services (CPS). Regardless of who files the suit, it is essential to understand what requirements must be met for standing, including the Texas Family Code’s definition of “control and possession.” An experienced family law attorney can explain these rules in more detail to help individuals determine whether they may be eligible to file an SAPCR.
Filing a Response
Many complicated issues arise regardless of the type of case, whether it is a divorce or SAPCR. An experienced family lawyer can help you to navigate these matters.
A SAPCR suit goes beyond simply saying, “I want custody.” The court will decide where the child will reside primarily, how visitation will be handled, and each parent’s financial obligations. This decision is made based on the best interests of the child.
Any person with care, control, or possession of a child can file a SAPCR suit. This includes unmarried parents, governmental entities like Child Protective Services, and certain relatives of the child. However, there are several requirements for standing as outlined in Texas law.
The temporary orders established in a SAPCR will remain in effect until a petition is filed to modify them. This is common when circumstances change. An experienced family lawyer can help you to adjust these orders as needed. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
Filing a Final Order
A SAPCR is a necessary legal process that allows parents, guardians, and other authorized persons to request custody, visitation, child support, and medical support orders for their children. It does not address issues relating to property or spousal support.
When the judge issues a final order in your case, it will become legally binding and set forth specific parental rights and duties. It will also establish a financial obligation of one party to the other based on the Texas child support guidelines.
If both parties agree and sign the necessary court forms, your SAPCR case may be considered uncontested and finished quickly. Otherwise, you will need to go through a lengthy contested SAPCR process. It is essential to have an experienced family law attorney to help you navigate this process.
Contact experienced Frisco and Dallas child custody lawyer Jeff Anderson to discuss your situation and learn more about how to protect your parental rights. He can thoroughly assess your situation and craft an effective strategy to help you reach your goals.