FAMILY LAW

Child Custody (SAPCR) FAQ's

Find the answers to your questions.
What is the difference between a SAPCR case and a paternity case?
A Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR) case asks a judge to make a custody, visitation, child support, medical support, and dental support order for your child.

A paternity case can ask a judge to make a custody, visitation, child support, and medical support order for a child and establish paternity (name the legal father of your child).
I need a custody, visitation and support order for my child. The other parent and I are not married. Should I file a SAPCR case or paternity case:I need a custody, visitation and support order for my child. The other parent and I are not married. Should I file a SAPCR case or paternity case:
If you and the other parent have signed an Acknowledgment of Paternity, you should usually file a SAPCR case. The legal father of your child is already named in the Acknowledgment of Paternity.

If you and the other parent have not signed an Acknowledgment of Paternity, you should usually file a paternity case. A paternity case will ask the judge to establish paternity (name the legal father of your child) AND make custody, visitation, child support, and medical/dental support orders.
How do I get a copy of an Acknowledgment of Paternity?
You can file a SAPCR case in Texas if:
the child has lived in Texas for at least the last 6 months (or since birth) or
Texas was the child’s home state and the child has been gone less than 6 months.

See Texas Family Code 152.201.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. Talk with a lawyer if this is an issue.
What if the other parent doesn’t live in Texas?
If the other parent lives out-of-state, you can still file your SAPCR case in Texas if:
­ the child has lived in Texas for at least the last 6 months (or since birth) or
­ Texas was the child’s home state and the child has been gone less than 6 months
However, the court must have personal jurisdiction over the other parent to make orders that impose a personal obligation on the other parent—such as ordering the other parent to pay child support. The Original Petition in Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship form includes a list of situations that give the court personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state parent. Check any that apply to your case. Talk to a lawyer if none apply or you have questions about personal jurisdiction.
Where should I file my SAPCR case?
You must file a SAPCR case in the Texas county where the child lives.
Do I need a lawyer to help me with my custody case?
You do not have to have a lawyer to file or respond to a SAPCR case. However, SAPCR cases can be complicated and your rights as a parent may be at risk. It’s a good idea to talk with a family law lawyer about your particular situation. A family law lawyer can explain your rights and options.

It’s really important to talk with a family law lawyer if any of the following are true.

You are afraid for your or your child’s safety.
Your case is contested.
The other parent has a lawyer.
Your child has a disability.

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