Mothers have a natural ability to care for and protect their children. They are selfless and only want the best for their families. When faced with family law disputes over issues such as divorce, child custody, visitation, child support and relocation, a mother’s protective instinct will kick in, and can at times make it difficult to remain calm.
With only their children in mind, a mother can easily feel overwhelmed, when facing these issues. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to face these issues alone. At Bineham & Gillen, our trained family lawyers will ensure your case receives the attention it deserves.
When a father wants to establish conservatorship, he has the right to file a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship or a Suit to Establish the Parent-Child Relationship. The suit will ask the court to decide issues of parentage, conservatorship, visitation, and child support. A suit for child support may be filed with the attorney general’s office pursuant to either a request by one of the parents or the state if a parent is receiving state benefits such as welfare or Medicaid. The attorney general will represent the state’s interest for parents to collect child support.
As a result, the attorney general represents the state, not either parent in the suit. When establishing the child support order, the attorney general will typically address the issues of conservatorship and visitation. You should seek legal counsel to discuss your legal options as soon as you are served with any papers from the attorney general, as failure to respond quickly can affect how the case is handled.
In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000) that has had some negative impact on the visitations rights of grandparents. The court held that a parent has a fundamental right to decide access to a child which has been deemed as the “fit parent” presumption. The Texas Family Code has provisions that state a grandparent can have possession and access to their grandchildren in certain circumstances.
Since Troxel, the Texas Attorney General has issued an opinion (See Tex. Atty. Gen. Op. No. GA-0260 (2004)) that Texas Family Code Statute pertaining to grandparent access could be unconstitutional because it fails to incorporate this “fit parent” presumption. In 2005, the grandparent access statutes were amended to better conform with Troxel and the Attorney General opinion in 2004. In any case, to avoid constitutional issues, the grandparent should demonstrate to the court that the parent is not fit or a denial of access by a grandparent would impair the child’s well-being.