As a parent, you want to do what’s best for your child. As much as you would like to care for your child, there are some situations in which that is not possible.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are unable to provide adequate care for your child, you may consider signing over custody of your child to a family member, such as one of your child’s grandparents. Here’s what you need to know about how to sign over custody of a child to grandparents in Texas.
Understand Your Options with Signing Over Custody
If you’re considering legally assigning custody to a grandparent, it’s important to understand what this entails. You need to understand the legal framework for grandparents’ rights and ensure you’re not pursuing this option as a temporary solution to a short-term problem.
Although Texas allows for temporary custody arrangements in certain cases – such as going out of the country for a prolonged work trip – what we’re talking about is assigning formal, long-term custody to a grandparent as the managing conservator.
The Central Matter of How to Sign Over Custody of a Child to Grandparent
Child custody is generally a permanent arrangement.
Custody changes should be reserved for situations in which the parent is unable to provide a safe and stable for the child due to factors such as incarceration, mental illness, or chronic substance abuse. These factors must be unlikely to improve within a reasonable time to completely sign over custody of a child to a grandparent.
You should also understand that to sign over custody of your child, you will need to voluntarily give up your parental rights. This is a significant decision. Giving up parental rights means that you will no longer have a say in decisions regarding the child and that your parental rights can only be reinstated by court order.
The grandparent to whom you choose to assign custody will become responsible for making decisions in the child’s best interest regarding matters like medical care, education, discipline, and more.
Next Steps to Assign Custody to a Grandparent
If, after considering your options, you decide that signing over custody of the child to a grandparent is in the best interest of your child, you will need to complete these critical steps:
- Petition the Court
- Attend a Court Hearing
1. Petition the Court to Terminate the Parent-Child Relationship
Petitioning the court is the first step to formally terminate the parent-child relationship. This step is completed by filing an Affidavit of Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights with your local county court.
In your affidavit, you can designate a managing conservator for your child. This person will be responsible for making decisions in the best interest of your child and providing care, support, and guidance.
The court will consider any of your child’s family members who meet the legal standard of a competent person. Be sure to select the grandparent who you believe will provide the best care for your child.
2. Attend a Court Hearing
Once the court has reviewed your petition, they will schedule a hearing in which you and the grandparent will be required to appear. Here, the court will assess whether it is in the best interest of your child to terminate your parental rights and transfer the management of conservatorship to the grandparent. The court will also assess whether the child’s parents are unfit as they claim to be.
The court will also consider whether you have been properly informed about the long-term implications and ramifications of grandparent custody. For example, you will have limited contact with the child – or none at all – once your parental rights have been terminated.
The judge will need to be assured that you have made this decision with an understanding of the consequences. In doing so, the judge may also ask questions to verify that you’re seeking the termination of parental rights to support your child’s upbringing rather than to avoid parental responsibilities.
After hearing from all parties and considering the factors of your situation, the judge will decide whether to terminate your parental rights and sign over custody of a grandchild to the grandparent.
Consult a Family Law Attorney Before Moving Forward
We can’t understate the gravity of signing over legal custody of a child to a grandparent. This decision should not be taken lightly, and you will want to explore all available avenues before deciding to move forward.
We strongly recommend that you seek the support of an experienced family law attorney who can help you understand your rights and the legal implications of this decision. When you turn to Parker & Aguilar in your time of need, we’ll help you understand:
- What you are signing over.
- How this affects your future parental rights.
- The rights assigned to the grandparent to take care of the child.
- The future of your relationship with your child.
If you decide to move forward with the process after speaking with our attorneys, we’ll be here to guide you through the complex legal landscape of grandparents’ rights laws in Texas and make sure everything is handled according to state law.
We currently support parents and grandparents in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, and Matagorda County. If you live in one of these counties, contact us today to discuss your case.
You can reach our offices at 979-267-7660 (Angleton office) or 281-944-5485 (Sugar Land office) to speak with one of our attorneys. We look forward to helping you learn more about how to sign over custody of a child to a grandparent.