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Temporary Authorization for Care of Minor Child (Texas Family Code 35)

Grandparents & Other Nonparent Caregivers

How to ask the court for a Temporary Authorization for Care of minor children when you do not have written authorization from a parent, guardian, or conservator of a child.
Overview

Guide Overview

Warning: The information and forms in this guide are not a substitute for the advice and help of a lawyer.

Use these instructions & forms if:

  1. You have been caring for a child in your home for at least 30 days and you are NOT the child’s parent, conservator, or guardian. 
  2. You are the child’s grandparent, adult sibling, adult aunt/uncle, or an adult who has a written authorization from the parent or conservator to consent to medical care for the child.
  3. The parents, conservator, or guardian of the child will not object to you obtaining a court order for temporary authorization for you to care for the child. 
  4. The child does not have a parent, conservator, or guardian available to consent to things or to authorize care that is necessary for the child’s welfare. 
  5. You need a court order that gives you the right to do things such as consent to medical treatment, obtain public benefits, enroll children in school or daycare, authorize extracurricular activities, or authorize other care that is essential to the child’s welfare. 
  6. You are unable to obtain a written or some other written documentation from a parent of the child that enables you to provide necessary care for the child.  

Common questions about Grandparents & Other Nonparent Caregivers

No, a temporary authorization order under Texas Family Code chapter 35 is not the same thing as having custody. Please read Texas Family Code chapter 35.007(d).  If you are not a parent and need to learn more about filing for custody (“conservatorship” under Texas law), please review (SAPCR) I need a custody order. I am not the child’s parent.

Texas Family Code 35.005(b) states that if a parent, conservator, or guardian of the child objects to (does not agree with) the request for temporary authorization, the judge should dismiss the case. 

If you do not agree with the temporary authorization, you can file a Motion to Dismiss with the clerk’s office and go to the hearing and tell the judge that you object. 

If the order has already been granted by the judge, you can consider filing a Motion for Termination. 

All temporary authorization orders should have an expiration date written on the order.  You can check and see if your order has expired or is about to expire.  If it has already expired, it is no longer in effect and you do not have to terminate it. 

Texas Family Code 35.006(b) states that, at any time, the petitioner, parent, conservator, or guardian of a child can ask that the order be terminated. The judge should terminate the order if he or she finds that the order is no longer needed. 

Texas Family Code 35.006(a) lets you ask to renew your order for up to one additional year. You have to show a judge that there is a continuing need for the order.

It is good practice to attach a copy of the original temporary authorization order to your motion for renewal. 

A court order granting temporary authorization to care for a child expires on the first anniversary of the date the court signs it—unless the court says it expires sooner. The order can also be renewed if the petitioner shows that the order is still needed.

See Texas Family Code 35.005(d)35.006(a).

 

At any time, the following parties can ask the court to terminate a court order giving them temporary authority to care for a child:

 

  • Petitioner/caretaker
  • Child’s parentconservator, or guardian

The court shall terminate the order on finding there is no longer a need for the order.

See Texas Family Code chapter 35.006(b).

Instructions & Forms

Warning: The information and forms in this guide are not a substitute for the advice and help of a lawyer.

First, see Going to Court to Get Temporary Authorization for Care for a Child.

Use these instructions and forms if:

  1. You have been caring for a child in your home for at least 30 days and you are NOT the child’s parent, conservator, or guardian. 
     
  2. You are the child’s adult caregiver (that is, an adult person whom a parent has authorized to provide temporary care for a child), grandparent, adult sibling, adult aunt/uncle, or an adult who has a written authorization from the parent or conservator to consent to medical care for the child.
  3. The parents, conservator, or guardian of the child will not object to you obtaining a court order for temporary authorization for you to care for the child. 
     
  4. The child does not have a parent, conservator, or guardian available to consent to things or to authorize care that is necessary for the child’s welfare.
     
  5. You need a court order that gives you the right to do things such as consent to medical treatment, obtain public benefits, enroll children in school or daycare, authorize extracurricular activities, or authorize other care that is essential to the child’s welfare. 
  6. You are unable to obtain a written Chapter 34 Authorization Agreement or some other written documentation from a parent of the child that enables you to provide necessary care for the child.  

 

Checklist Steps

Fill out the petition and order.

The person filling out the petition is the “Petitioner.” Fill in all of the blanks. The judge will read this petition to help him or her determine whether or not to grant your request for the temporary authorization order.  

  • Fill out and attach Appendix A if there are additional individuals with conservatorship or guardianship rights to the children besides the mother and father. In Appendix A you will fill in the full name, physical address, and mailing address of additional individuals with conservatorship or guardianship rights to the children. 

The petition form MUST be signed in front of a notary. Do not sign it until you are in front of a notary.

If any other conservatorship, guardianship orders have been issued by any other court, a copy of those orders must be attached to your petition. If anyone has ever paid child support for the children, that is a good clue that there are orders for the children. Often, the orders will be from the county where the children lived when they were last with their parent. You can contact the clerk from that county to ask for a copy of the orders. 

If you are not sure if there are prior orders, the Inquiry on Court of Continuing Jurisdiction for a Child form can be used to determine whether any court has issued conservatorship orders for a child. 

Each petition only has the space to fill in the names of two parents. If you are seeking temporary authorizations for several children with different parents, you should fill out a different petition for each child. You can use the same petition for multiple children with the same two parents. 

  • Fill out and attach Appendix A if there are additional individuals with conservatorship or guardianship rights to the children besides the mother and father. In Appendix A you will fill in the full name, physical address, and mailing address of additional individuals with conservatorship or guardianship rights to the children. 

The order should also be filled out before going to court. You do not need to sign this form; the judge will sign it if he or she grants your petition. 

If you are planning to file your petition in person, make enough copies of it so that you can keep one copy and you have one additional copy for each parent, conservator, or guardian who needs to be served. 

Texas Family Code 35.002 states that a person may file the petition in the district court in the county where the petitioner resides. Because it is required that the child has lived with you for at least 30 days before you file the petition, this will also be the county where the child lives. 

You can file in person or e-file online. Whether you file in person or e-file online, you must pay a filing fee or, if you have a low income, file a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs. Contact the district clerk’s office in your county to learn the filing fee for a Temporary Authorization for Care of Minor Child.

To file in person, take the following to the district clerk’s office in the county where you live:

Ask the clerk if there is a local standing order that you need to follow or attach to any of your documents. And ask if there are any local rules you need to follow.

The clerk will write your “Cause Number” and “Court Number” at the top of the first page of your Petition. (Write these numbers at the top of any other document you file in this case.)  The clerk will “file-stamp” your copies with the date and time. The clerk will keep the original and give the copies back to you.  One copy is for you to keep and the other copies are for you serve on the parents, conservators, or guardians. 

To e-file online, go to E-File Texas and follow the instructions. You will e-file your Motion and, if applicable, a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs

Texas Family Code 35.004(a) says that once the court receives the petition, the court must set a hearing.  Ask the clerk’s office or the appropriate court coordinator how you can set your case for a hearing. Once the hearing is set, the clerk or judge will fill out the Notice of Hearing on the last page of your petition, or they may tell you when the hearing is set and you will fill out the Notice of Hearing (which is also available as a separate document here). 

Texas Family Code 35.004(b) requires the petitioner to serve (or give) a copy of the petition and the completed Notice of Hearing on each parent, conservator, or guardian of the child. Service can be done in one of two ways:

  1. Personal service – the documents will be hand delivered to the parents, conservator, or guardian in person.  You can contact your local clerk, constable, sheriff or private process server’s office to set this up.  

OR

  1. Certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the parent, conservator, or guardian. You can find certified mail forms at your local post office. Save the receipt when you pay to send something by certified mail. Make three copies of the petition and notice.

    You should send one copy of the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested; a second copy by regular mail; and keep the third copy for your records.

WARNING! ​If a suit is filed after January 1, 2021, and a party to a family law case files an answer, both sides usually must exchange certain information and documents within 30 days.  Talk to a lawyer about exceptions to this rule. The form is here: Required Initial Disclosures.

Texas Family Code 35.004(c) requires the petitioner to file proof of service with the court at least three days before the hearing.

If the parent, conservator, or guardian was served by personal service, you should have received a “Return of Service” form that says when and where the parent, conservator, or guardian was served.  This form can be filed with the clerk’s office at least three days before the hearing.

If the parent, conservator, or guardian was served by certified mail, the green card (“return receipt”) with their signature on it that you received in the mail can be filed with the clerk’s office at least three days before the hearing. 

 

Take your petition and your completed order form with you. You can also bring any other witnesses or evidence that you believe may be helpful. 

At the hearing, the judge will review your petition and order and listen to any evidence presented. The judge may ask you some additional questions. 

If a parent, conservator, or guardian attends the hearing and objects to giving you temporary authorization, the judge CANNOT grant your petition.

If the judge agrees that there are no parents, conservators, or guardians available to provide the necessary consents or authorizations for the child, and that the temporary authorization is in the child’s best interest, then the judge may agree to grant your petition. 

If the judge grants your petition, the judge will sign the Order for Temporary Authorization for Care of Minor Children. 

Read Tips for the Courtroom

Texas Family Code 35.005(f)(1) states that a copy of the temporary authorization order must be filed under the cause number in any court that has rendered a conservatorship or guardianship order regarding the children. (You should already know the case number and county where these orders are from because you attached copies of the orders to your petition before you filed it.)

You can contact the clerk’s office for the county that issued the conservatorship or guardianship order to find out how to file a copy of your temporary authorization order with their office. 

Texas Family Code 35.005(f)(2) states that a copy of the temporary authorization order must be mailed to the last known address of the child’s parents and any other conservators or guardians of the child. 

 

Forms Required

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