Couple holding newborn baby

Understanding Parental Rights and Responsibilities

In most Suits Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SARC), parental rights and responsibilities are at stake. These rights and duties are defined in Chapter 151 of the Texas Family Code.

Mothers and married fathers automatically receive parental rights and responsibilities for any children born within their marriage. Unmarried fathers must acknowledge paternity or be named a legal father in court. Parents who adopt gain parental rights and duties via the process of adoption, and sometimes, friends, grandparents and other family members, or foster parents gain certain rights and duties via a Permanent Managing Conservatorship (PMC).

Parents can lose their parental rights and responsibilities or have them reduced during child custody cases or as the result of a protective order. Some parties may also file suit to terminate parental rights.

To protect your rights and responsibilities as a parent, you need to understand what they are.

Parental Duties

Once you give birth or accept parental duties, you must adhere to them. If you do not, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services may become involved and remove your child from your care. If you do not think you can meet your parental duties, you may also choose to give your child up for adoption.

Parental duties include:

  • The duty of care, control, protection, and reasonable discipline.
  • The duty to support and provide for your child (with clothing, food, shelter, medical and dental care, and education).
  • The duty to manage your child’s estate.

Your duties to your child apply even if your child no longer lives with you and as long as your child is fully enrolled in a secondary school. If you are not the custodial parent, you may have to pay child support.

Parental Rights

Fortunately, there are far more parental rights than parental duties. As long as you care for your child, keep them safe, and support them, you get to make decisions about their upbringing and shape them into an adult.

Parental rights include:

  • The right to have physical possession of your child.
  • The right to direct your child’s moral and religious training.
  • The right to determine where your child lives.
  • The right to consent to your child’s medical, dental, psychiatric, psychological, and surgical treatment.
  • The right to decide whether your child gets married or enlists in the armed forces.
  • The right to represent your child in legal action.
  • The right to receive child support payments and hold or disburse funds for the child’s benefit.
  • The right to make decisions regarding your child’s education.

If you fail to uphold your parental duties, you can lose your parental rights. During difficult moments, like divorce proceedings, for example, you should always keep your child’s best interests in mind. Any irresponsible or abusive behavior may result in your spouse requesting full custody or filing suit to terminate your parental rights.

In contentious divorce cases, spouses sometimes try to jeopardize one another’s parental rights. If you need help protecting yours, do not hesitate to call Kay Polk, Attorney at Law at (713) 234-6260.

Your satisfaction is our priority, and we focus exclusively on divorce and family law cases.

Contact us online today to schedule a confidential consultation and put our 18+ years of experience on your side.