Divorcing adults have to manage many complex issues, especially when there are children in the picture. Parents are deeply invested in the welfare of their children, and when parents view each other as incompetent or malicious, it can be very difficult to reach a compromise about what is in the child’s best interests. A suit affecting the parent-child relationship, or SAPCR, is a legal request to establish or adjust issues related to children during or after a divorce.
What Does a SAPCR Do?
SAPCRs are automatically used when parents file for divorce, and they address the following child-related issues:
- Child custody, including which parent has conservatorship (decision-making authority)
- Visitation, including holiday schedules
- Child support
- Medical support
- In addition to divorce, SAPCRs are used when other adult caregivers need to establish legal arrangements for a child for the issues listed above. These caregivers may include, but are not limited to:
- Parents who are divorced and want to modify a family court order
- Parents who have legally separated
- Parents who have never been married
- A man who is claiming to be the father of a child
- A non-parent, such as a foster parent or legal guardian, who is involved in a child’s care
- A close family member who is caring for a child after the child’s parents have died
- The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, when they are investigating a case of abuse or neglect and are seeking to remove a child from the custody of one or both parents
When Can a SAPCR Be Filed?
Whenever a parent or any other adult caregiver needs to legally establish or adjust a court order detailing how a child’s needs are addressed, a SAPCR must be used. The child in question must have lived in Texas for at least six months (or, if the child is younger than six months old, since the child’s birth). A SAPCR must be filed in the county where the child lives.
Once a SAPCR is filed, the family court in which it is filed has jurisdiction over the case. If parents or other parties can agree on the issues involved in the SAPCR, the case is considered uncontested and a judge merely approves the arrangements. If parties disagree, a judge will hear the case and make decisions about custody, visitation, and child support that protect the child’s best interests.
Meet with a Collin County Child Custody Lawyer
Understanding how child custody laws affect you during and after divorce is a crucial part of the overall divorce process. Setting realistic expectations and knowing your options under Texas law can help you start negotiating from a strong and informed position. Our experienced Plano, TX custody attorneys are here to advise you and advocate on your behalf for a SAPCR that benefits you and your children. Call the Law Office of Brian Bagley today to schedule a free and confidential consultation at (972) 843-7158.