Whether you are getting divorced or separating from your spouse, or have recently learned that you are a parent and would like to have time with your child as such, knowing how to file for child custody in Texas is important.
Filing for child custody can be one of the most emotional legal issues that people navigate, and as such, working with a skilled Texas family law attorney who is both knowledgeable in the law and passionate about providing you with competent counsel is advised.
Our lawyers at the firm of Simer & Tetens are here to guide you through how to file for custody of a child in Texas – reach out to us directly for questions specific to your case.
Talk to Your Child’s Other Parent
If possible, starting your child custody case with an honest conversation with your child’s other parent about your child’s needs, your desires for the outcome of the child custody case, and your intent, as well as the other parent’s preferences and desires is recommended.
Working with the child’s other parent in order to reach a child custody arrangement is always preferred, and can mitigate stress, legal costs, and contention. In fact, if you and your child’s other parent can reach an agreement out of court, you can file the agreement together, which a judge is almost surely going to approve.
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File Paperwork for a Default Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship
If you and your child’s other parent are in agreement about how custody of a child should be shared, then you will fill out the forms for an Agreed Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR). If you are not in agreement or do not believe that the other parent will cooperate, then you will fill out the Default SAPCR forms.
The basic process for initiating the child custody suit involves:
- Filling out the Default SAPCR forms/petition (accessible for free online);
- Turning in the forms;
- Serving the other parent with the forms;
- Waiting for the other parent to file an answer to your petition;
- Finishing your case by agreement or hearing – you and the other parent may attend meditation in an attempt to reach an agreement, or your case will be scheduled for a contested final hearing; or
- Finishing your case by default – if the other parent was properly served the petition and did not file a response and the required waiting period was required, your case may be finalized (in your favor) by default;
- Going to court and send in final documents – the last step is going to court and presenting your case before a judge, who will then issue a decision. However, note that your case is not truly finalized until you turn in your order, signed by a judge, to your clerk’s office.
Our Texas Child Custody Lawyers Can Help
Knowing how to file for child custody in Texas can be overwhelming, and managing it on your own isn’t recommended; there’s a lot at stake.