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How is child custody established in Texas?

In Texas, child custody is often referred to as conservatorship. The term, "conservatorship" is used to describe the rights and responsibilities of the parents when it comes to raising their children. Although this does not refer to the time spent with each child, it does refer to the legal guardian of the child.

Under Texas law, parents can seek child custody, but so too can a number of other people in certain circumstances. For instance, a non-parent who has taken care of the child for more than six months can apply for child custody. The person can request child custody if the child has been living with the parent for at least three months before the parent files the child custody claim. A foster parent can also file for child custody if the child has been living in that parent's home. A grandparent also has the right to file for child custody if that grandparent can prove that the child's present circumstances with whoever the child is living do not consider the child's best interest. Both of the child's parents or the child's surviving parent must file the petition.

A child custody lawsuit may be filed with the Attorney General's office in Texas. The Attorney General does not represent the state or the parents. When the parents of the child are married to each other, both parents have equal rights to the child. That means that if a parent wishes to move, the parent has the right to do so, including taking the child.

The child can stay with that parent until a formal order is established by the court. The court will establish the parental rights and responsibilities under those circumstances. However, when parents are not married to each other, the father will need to prove that he is actually the biological father of the child in order to obtain child custody.

Source: TYLA.org, "What to Expect in Texas Family Law Court," Accessed on May 19, 2015

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