Are you a grandparent, aunt/uncle, or adult sibling who is caring for a minor child or who is concerned about the ability of a child’s parents to provide care to a minor child? If so, you may wish to legally take over the responsibilities of raising the child yourself. To do so, you will likely want to become the child’s legal guardian. Dallas family court lawyer Rita M. Boyd explains how to get legal guardianship over a minor child in Texas.
Parental Rights in Texas
The law of the State of Texas states that a biological or adoptive parent of a minor child is the child’s legal guardian, known as a “conservator” in Texas. That relationship gives the parent certain legal rights as well as responsibilities until the child reaches the age of majority (usually 18 years old). If the parent(s) of a minor child is unable or unwilling to fulfill his/her legal responsibilities as the child’s conservator, another adult may be able to step in a become the child’s legal guardian.
What Is a Legal Guardian?
The term “guardian” is commonly used to refer to someone who cares for another person. In the legal context, a guardian for a minor is someone who has been appointed by a court to care for a minor child. The guardian has the legal authority to make daily decisions for the child as well as the responsibility of providing for the child’s emotional health. In essence, a guardian steps into the role of a parent; however, the rights of the parent may not have been legally terminated. Common examples of the rights and responsibilities a guardian has include:
- Enrolling the child in school.
- Consenting to medical treatment.
- Deciding what extracurricular activities the child will participate in
- Providing a safe and secure home for the child
- Providing for the child’s basic necessities (food, clothing, education, nurture)
Legally, the child’s parent(s) remain financially responsible for the child. That means that the parent(s) may be ordered to pay support to you as the child’s guardian. In reality, however, you may bear the majority of the financial burden if you choose to become a child’s guardian.
How Do I Become a Child’s Guardian in Texas?
Although you are not required to work with an experienced family court attorney to petition for guardianship over a minor child, doing so will increase the odds of success and reduce the stress associated with navigating an unfamiliar legal system.
Ideally, the parent(s) of the child will consent to the guardianship. If you are able to obtain consent of the parent(s) it makes the legal process much simpler. If you cannot obtain the necessary consent(s), you will need to petition the appropriate court. The child’s parents must be be notified of the petition, unless only one parent has legal parental rights to the child. If either (or both) parent objects to the appointment of a guardian, you will need to litigate the issue in court. If you believe that the need to be appointed guardian is an emergency (because the child is in danger, for example), be sure to discuss this with your attorney as you may be able to obtain emergency guardianship of the child right away pending notice to the parents and a hearing on the matter. You will need to undergo a background check and the court may order a home study to determine the “best interest of the child” when deciding whether to appoint a guardian. At the hearing, you must convince the judge that the minor child needs a legal guardian and that you are an appropriate person to appoint as the child’s guardian.
Contact a Dallas Family Court Lawyer
If you have additional questions or concerns about petitioning for guardianship of a minor child in the State of Texas, contact an experienced Dallas family court lawyer at Rita M. Boyd, P.C. to discuss your legal rights and options by calling 972-380-8000 to schedule your appointment today.