In 2018, the Texas Supreme Court delivered an opinion expanding the rights of non-parents to have standing (the legal right to bring a lawsuit) in certain lawsuits under the Family Code. In the Interest of H.S., a Minor Child, the Court held that a non-parent may have standing under Section 102.003(a)(9) of the Family Code if they are able to show they served in a parent-like role for the requisite six-month period by (1) sharing a principal residence with the child, (2) providing for the child’s daily physical and psychological needs, and (3) exercising guidance, governance, and direction similar to that typically exercised on a day-to-day basis by parents with their children. The Supreme Court further explained that a non-parent may have standing, even if the parents have not ceded or relinquished their own parental rights and responsibilities, and maintain legal control of the child.

Like anything in the legal world, this holding is both good and bad. On the one hand, the update provides third parties the ability to step up for the good of the child when parents aren’t caring for the needs of the child. However, the update could also result in frivolous litigation when parents and non-parents disagree on what’s best for the child, as this holding hurts the presumption that parents know what is best for their child.

Whether you are a parent facing a threat from a third party or you are a relative concerned about a child’s well-being, contact Yale Law to go over your options. (940) 891-4800.