When divorce or separation is eminent and children are involved, tensions can run high and agreeing to custody issues can be difficult. While it is usually in the best interest of the children involved for both parents to work together, that may not be possible in every case. If you or a loved one are facing a bitter custody dispute, contact a Dallas divorce lawyer, one who specializes in child related matters, to protect your parental rights.

What is an SAPCR?

Under Texas law, a parent seeking to establish paternity or visitation rights may file a petition for a Suit Affecting Parent Child Relationship. You don’t have to be married to file this petition. You only need have a parental role in the child’s life.  This petition may also be filed to resolve child support issues or to restrict parental access in an abusive relationship. If both parties agree, the petition is considered uncontested and is relatively straightforward. If there is an agreement, a motion will be filed with a parental plan, the judge will review the motion and render a decision within a few weeks.  All other motions are considered contested and must go through a formal hearing.

Contested SAPCRs

If the parties do not agree to the custody or support issues, the petitioner will file the SAPCR in the county in which the child lives. Additionally, a temporary restraining order may be filed against the respondent if safety concerns are an issue. The Respondent (opposing party) must then answer the petition before the court hears the case and renders decisions during the case and up to a final trial decision. A qualified and experienced Dallas divorce lawyer can assist you through this process.

Who Can File a SAPCR?

A parent, legal guardian, adoptive parent, or foster parent may file the petition provided certain conditions are met. For example, if you are a guardian and have had physical custody of the child for at least six months or if the parents are deceased, you may then file the petition. Grandparents may file provided they have been the legal guardians. In Texas, Grandparents may not file the petition strictly for visitation rights.

To seek legal assistance, contact Goldstein & Scopellite, PC for more information at 214-351-9100.

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