There are a few cases out there right now in Texas that are not favorable for a non-biological parent. If you are in a situation where you might be facing divorce, this article should help you understand what you need to do if you are the non-biological parent and do not want to lose rights to your children.
If you aren’t separating then the number one thing you should do is either file a Petition to Adjudicate Maternity or a Step Parent Adoption. Either of those will automatically give you standing in the event of a separation or in the event the biological parent passes away.
If you are in the middle of separating, then you really need to make sure you are part of your child’s life. Some examples of this are, taking your child to school, attending school functions, helping with homework, taking your child to the doctor, attending doctor appointments, having visitation with your child, providing financial support for your child, providing insurance (if applicable) for your child, etc. These are just a few ways to be there for your child. The more you are doing with and/or for your child, the better your case will be for the Judge to determine you have standing to have rights to your child.
The case In Re A.E. had a non-biological mother who was not living in the house when the child was born, had very sporadic contact with the child, had not had the child overnight since child was born, did not provide any financial support for the child, and did not treat the child as hers. Further, the parties did not enter into a gestational agreement nor did she file an acknowledgment of Paternity.
I had a case where my client was able to show she was a part of the child’s life since the child was born. My client provided support and was willing to continue to do so. My client attended doctor appointments and actually scheduled several of them. My client was very involved in the child’s life and because of that she was able to maintain her rights to her child.
The Section 102.003(a)(9) provides standing to a party if they have had “actual care, control, and possession” of the child, however, there is a time limit. You must be able to show that you had that “care, control, and possession” for at least six months and that it did not end more than 90 days before you filed anything with the Court. This is an ABSOLUTE. If you file on day 91 you will lose this standing, even if you had YEARS of “actual, care, control, and possession”.
There is a case In the Interest of N.M.B. the non-biological mom did not file her case within 90 days because she relied the biological mom’s statement that they would come to an agreement. After she realized they would not be in agreement she filed, however, it was too late. She tried many different arguments with the Court to try to work around this 90 day limitation, but all of them failed. So in light of this, and to ensure you have all possible arguments, file your case as soon as possible.
A good attorney will have several ways to try to allow you to have standing in a case. If you fail to act promptly then you reduce the options available to your attorney. Giving the Judge as many options as possible is critical so that the Judge has multiple options to consider.