A client asks, I’ve maintained a relationship with my former partner’s child after our relationship ended, but I’m afraid that she’s going to cut me off. Is there anyway I can sue to keep the relationship I have with the child even though I’m not the biological parent?
I have four cases in my office right now pending in Dallas County with this exact issue. The Texas Family Code allows a lawsuit to be filed by a person who has had “actual care, control, and possession” of a child for at least 6 months ending not less than 90 days prior to the lawsuit being filed. There is much discussion going on in the court system right now about what constitutes “actual care, control and possession”. It is clear that “possession” does not mean uninterrupted periods, and does include periodic, alternating periods of possession. The current state of the law is unclear as to the meaning of “control” and there is much debate among judges as to what it means.
The law requires 6 months of possession, but it is unclear whether it means 6 months between the first period of “actual care, control and possession” and the last period, or whether the total of the periods of possession by the non-parent must aggregate (add up) to a total of 180 days. Regardless, the last possession period must not be less than 90-days prior to the day the lawsuit is filed. This means that a person who wants to solidify the relationship through a court order must not delay in filing suit.
I’ve had several clients come in with these problems, and each one delayed in seeking legal help. If you have a relationship with the child of a former partner, please do not delay in seeking advice from a lawyer about your situation. Consider confirming your relationship in a court order while the relationship with the other partner is good. If you have any questions about your status, please schedule a private, confidential consultation today.