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What rights do step parents have about raising the child?

Resolved Question:

Our cousin is incompetent and is presently in a long-term facility. Her husband will not give anyone any information. He presently has disablility and is receiving it on his step child. Does he have legal rights to raise his step child because he receives a disability check on him? The reason I am concerned is because he is not very responsible with his money nor patient with his step son. The biological grandmother would like to raise her grandson if she has a legal right to. Please let me know what the law says for the state of Texas about all of this. Thank you.
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Attorney & Mediator replied 9 years ago.
Unless the step-father has been given court orders to take care of the child, a step-parent has no legal rights over their step-children. The first in line to be responsible for their children would be the mother and the father. Step-parents and grandparents do not have automatic legal rights over a child that is not theirs. To petition the court for custody as a non-parent would require a showing of legal standing. In Texas legal standing is met by the following:

Grandparents can petition the court for custody of your children if the children have lived with them for at least six months and they file the petition for custody within 90 days of the date the children were no longer living with them. They may also petition for custody if there is an emergency that endangers the health or wellbeing of the children. Grandparents have the burden of proof to demonstrate that the children are better off with the grandparents
and must also prove that living with a parent would be harmful to the child.


To answer your question, getting disability benefits on behalf of the child does not give the step-father custodial rights unless the court has given him such rights to possess the child.


In addition and for clarification, the second person to have the legal right to custody would be the father of the child so any petitions for custody by the grandmother or the step-father will require notice to the father and the father can object to their petitions. If the father has not been an active player in the child's life then the court would be less incline to transferring custody over to him.

I suggest that the grandmother speak with a family law attorney to review if she has standing to petition for custody. If possible the attorney may be able to get the mother to consent for the grandmother to get temporary custody over the child if the mother is of right mind to make such decision.



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Legal Disclaimer: The information given by me is for informational/research use only and you are paying me only for such information. The information contained herewith is not legal advice and by rendering such information there is no formation of an attorney-client relationship. I also do not claim to be licensed to practice in the state where this information is being provided. I strive to provide quality information, but I make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked herein and it’s associated sites. As law is always changing, you are advised to speak with the appropriate legal counsel for accurate information. Thank you.

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Customer: replied 9 years ago.
My daughter is basically a vegetable and can not sign over anything nor communicate with anyone right now. What are some other options? Could I go straight to the DA's office about my grandson? My daughter and her family were living in my house for free, but now that my daughter has been placed in a long-term facility care and her husband has moved his brother and friends into my house; I am going to evict him from my property. So I am trying to find out who I need to talk to instead of an attorney that charges, because I do not have the funds to pay them. Would I be able to pick up my grandson and take him with me to the Protective Services Office until they can place him with my nephew, wife and their family after I evict my son in law?
Expert:  Attorney & Mediator replied 9 years ago.
Thank you for your response.

1) The district attorney will not be able to help you here as the step-father is not committing any crimes. The solution here is to file for custody of the child. There is no way around this. Child protective services will also not get involved here, because the child is not being exposed to a risk of harm, neglect or abuse. The child would be the one to suffer if the child were removed and placed in foster care. I understand the step-father has no custody rights, but at the same time there is no mention of abuse here. There is no quick solution here.

As stated the father has primary rights to the child, so the father should be notified that the mother is no longer able to care for the child. If the father is cannot be located or is unfit to parent, then the only recourse is to petition the court for custody. There is no quick or easy fix here and it will cost money. I am sorry to have to put this bluntly, but that is the only solution.


Please accept my answer for the work I have provided you and to close this window. Thank you for using Just Answer.

Legal Disclaimer: The information given by me is for informational/research use only and you are paying me only for such information. The information contained herewith is not legal advice and by rendering such information there is no formation of an attorney-client relationship. I also do not claim to be licensed to practice in the state where this information is being provided. I strive to provide quality information, but I make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked herein and it’s associated sites. As law is always changing, you are advised to speak with the appropriate legal counsel for accurate information. Thank you.