I have had situations where clients have come to me saying they had to take a break for a month or more due to various reasons. Sometimes it was for work. Sometimes there was an addiction that needed to be fixed. Sometimes there was just a meltdown. Whatever the reason these people left their children with family members to care for them while they were gone. The Texas Family Code has always had a provision for providing an authorization agreement to give a relative the right to care for their children while they have been away. Now, as of September 1, 2017, you can authorize any adult caregiver to care for your child via this type of agreement.
This type of agreement is what we family law attorneys call a Chapter 34 authorization (because it is Chapter 34 of the Texas Family Code). It allows you to agree that an adult can provide the following care for your child: (1) medical, dental, psychological or surgical treatment; (2) obtain health and automobile insurance coverage; (3) enroll is day-care or public or private school; (4) authorize child to participate in extracurricular activities; (5) authorize the child to obtain learner’s permit or driver’s license; (6) authorize employment; (7) apply for and receive public benefits; and (8) obtain identification documents.
Sometimes, though, the parent would leave for a month or so and not execute any type of authorization. This made it difficult for the adult caring for the child to act on the child’s behalf. This year the legislature also passed a Chapter 35 Temporary Authorization which is intended for when the parent left but did not put a Chapter 34 Authorization in place prior to leaving. It allows for the adult to petition the Court to allow that person to have the right to make decisions for the child similar to the provisions under Chapter 34. The difference in this one is that the parent is not the one giving the authorization, but rather the Court is. This means that a hearing is required in front of a Judge. This type of agreement is good for one year. At any time a parent can petition the Court to terminate this type of authorization.