What is a SAPCR?

A Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (called a SAPCR) can be filed by a parent or other authorized person to ask for a child custody, visitation, child support and medical support order. In order to file a SAPCR, you must be the child’s parent and paternity of the child has to have been legally established. If it has not yet been established, you will want to file a parentage case to help establish your relationship with your child.

A SAPCR aims to enable a parent of a child’s access to that child. It concerns the residence of the child, visitation, & child support. If you need help with a suit affecting the parent-child relationship, call our family law attorneys at 713-774-8600 for a free legal consultation.

Who can bring a SAPCR?

Texas Family Code §102.003 sets forth who is authorized to bring a SAPCR generally. Fourteen (14) separate categories confer standing and allow the following to file a suit at any time. First and foremost, parents (whether married, or not) are authorized to bring a SAPCR.

A child may bring a SAPCR through a representative authorized by the court, such as a guardian or amicus attorney. (A child might do this to get access or visitation with another sibling.) A custodian or person who has the right of visitation with or access to the child appointed by an order of a court of another state or country has the right to file a suit. Guardians, governmental entities, authorized agencies and licensed child placing agencies have standing to file a suit. So does an alleged or presumed father, subject to the limitations set forth in Texas Family Code Chapter 160.

Any person, other than a foster parent or step-parent, who has had the actual care, control and possession of the child for at least six (6) months, has standing to file a suit, as long as the six (6) month period ended not more than ninety (90) days before the date of the filing of the petition.

In addition, a person with whom the child and the child’s guardian, managing conservator, or parent have resided for at least six (6) months prior to the time the petition is filed, if the guardian, managing conservator or parent is deceased at the time the petition is filed, has standing. So, a step-parent could file a SAPCR if the birth parent with whom he or she lived has died and the step-parent wants to try to keep the children in the home.

Foster parents have standing only if the child has been placed by the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services in the foster parent’s home for at least twelve (12) months ending not more than ninety (90) days preceding the date of the filing of the petition. A person who is a foster parent of a child may file a suit to adopt a child for whom the person is providing foster care at any time after the person has been approved to adopt the child.

The standing to file suit under that subsection applies only to the adoption of a child who is eligible to be adopted. (See, Texas Family Code §102.003(c).) A person designated as a managing conservator in a revoked or unrevoked affidavit of relinquishment under Chapter 161, or to whom consent to adoption has been given in writing under Chapter 162 has standing to bring a lawsuit. If both parents are deceased, a person who is a relative of the child within the third degree of consanguinity, as determined by Chapter 573 of the Government Code, has standing. Persons within the third degree of consanguinity include siblings, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles, or cousins. ( See, Texas Government Code §573.002.)

To calculate the six (6) month time provision necessary to confer standing, the court is not required to find that the time was continuous and uninterrupted, but rather must consider where the child’s principal residence was during the six (6) months prior to the 90 days prior to filing suit. (See, Texas Family Code §102.003(b).)