I’m the noncustodial parent or non-parent caregiver and the child has primarily lived with me. How do I get additional rights or become an additional party on the case?

When a caregiver contacts the OAG and indicates that the child(ren) on the case is no longer living with the original custodial parent and requests a modification, an application for services is sent to the person with physical possession of the child in order to create a new case. The court order does not change until the judge changes it.

If you do not go through the OAG’s office, parties typically file a motion for modification to change conservatorship or possession rights, instead of the Notice of Change of Status discussed below.

A Notice of Change of Status may be filed with the OAG when the:
Custodial parent voluntarily relinquishes the primary care of the child, or
• Person with physical possession of the child has applied for or been referred to the OAG for child support services and the change of possession is permanent, and
OAG has verified the change in physical possession.

The person with physical possession of the child does not need to have possession for six months prior to filing legal action. The OAG uses one of the following documents to verify the change in possession:
• Judicial finding of possession
• Child’s school or day care records
• Affidavit from the person in possession
• Uncontested affidavit of possession signed by the NCP, provided OAG staff attempt to confirm that CP’s relinquishment of possession was voluntary
• Possession affidavit completed by the CP
• Other appropriate documentation of possession, including records from the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC)

How can I be listed on the court order?

If you want to be named as a conservator in the court order, you must file a motion requesting the court add you as a party to the case.

Did a parent with right to name the child’s residence voluntarily give the child to you to care for?

You may ask the court for additional legal rights by filing a motion with the court that issued the original orders. You would be referred to as a “non-parent caregiver.”

You may also be able to apply for medical care or food assistance for the child.

Modification of Visitation
FAQs for Non-Parents

I am not the parent of the child, but I am a family member or a caregiver. What are my rights as a non-parent caregiver?

A caregiver is an adult who is present in the home and supervises and cares for a child.

There are different reasons a non-parent may want to learn more about getting a court order or changing a court order. Sometimes, a non-parent may take care of a child without a court order giving that person any parental rights or responsibilities. If the child was given to you by the custodial parent so you would care for the child, you may be able to ask a court to give you additional rights. If you are not a biological parent but you are doing everything for the child that the parent would normally do, you can also ask for additional rights.

If you do not want to go through the Attorney General’s Office and the parent or relative voluntarily gave the child to you, hire an attorney or contact your local law library. Additionally, call the Access and Visitation Hotline at 1 (866) 292-4636 for help in how to ask the court for additional rights. A court order says where the child is to live. Court orders that document agreements between parties help avoid conflicts that could arise in the future.

Read more about Modification of Visitation.

I am not a parent, but I am a possessory conservator. Are my rights and duties the same?

The Texas Family Code states that you have the following rights and duties unless the court order says otherwise:

  1. The duty of care, control, protection, and reasonable discipline of the child;
  2. The duty to provide the child with clothing, food, and shelter; and
  3. The right to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment during an emergency involving an immediate danger to the health and safety of the child.

You also have any other right that is specifically listed in the court order.

Do I have access to medical records, school records, or other records of the child?

Unless the court has specifically limited your right to these records, you can access them without regard to whether the order gives you the right. This is also true of dental records, psychological records, and educational records.

Take a copy of the court order with you when you try to access records.

Can I still be required to pay child support?

I am a non-conservator parent. Can I still be required to pay child support? Yes. The Texas Family Code states that a court can order a parent not appointed as a managing or a possessory conservator to perform “other parental duties,” including paying child support.

When can I see my child?

There is no set rule regarding a non-conservator parent’s access and visitation rights. A non-conservator is a non-parent (friend or relative) whom the court has appointed conservator of a child. Check with your attorney, if you have one, for more information. If you do not have an attorney, click here to get help finding an attorney, or call the Access and Visitation hotline toll free at 1 (866) 292-4636, Monday through Friday between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., to have an attorney review the order with you over the phone.

The child’s parent wants the child back, but I don’t think it is a good idea.

Depending on the level of threat to the child, refusing to return the child might be a valid option if you think the child is in imminent danger. If possible, speak with an attorney about your situation before taking any action.

Talk with the parent about your concerns, and try to work out a solution that allows the child to stay with you. If the parent has been away a long time, talk about making any transition as easy on the child as possible. You could offer to take the child to the new home for progressively longer visits to the new home for a gradual transition.

If talking to the parent doesn’t work and the danger to the child is immediate, call 9-1-1 (for an emergency) or CPS at 1 (800)-252-5400 (if you suspect the child is being abused or neglected).

I am a grandparent being denied access to my grandchild. What can I do?

Sometimes, after parents separate, other family members miss seeing the child who has gone to live with only one parent. Grandparents have limited rights and non-relatives have even fewer. Maintaining a positive relationship with the parent of the child is one way to continue to see the child.

Before you contact the parents, think about how committed and how much time you can consistently spend with the child. Maintaining relationships when there has been conflict may not be easy, but it is possible. Communication tip: Be a good listener, be understanding, and stay focused on your goal, remaining involved with the child. Don’t argue. Don’t use adjectives. Stay positive, focus on what can happen.

Read about Enforcement of Visitation here, or download the TexasLawHelp.org Visitation Kit.