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Who obtains child custody after a parent dies?

In a perfect world, parents would raise their children -- teaching them and protecting them -- until the kids become adults. Unfortunately, however, sometimes things happen, and parents pass away. What happens when the custodial parent dies? Who can raise the children? There are several who may choose to seek child custody when the children lose their custodial parent in Texas.

If the second biological parent is still alive, he or she would be the first option. That parent may seek custody, but if the reason for his or her previous absence is a history of violence, substance abuse or lack of interest, this may not be the best option for the children. In this case, there may be another relative that would be interested in obtaining guardianship, including a grandparent, aunt, uncle or even an older sibling. If there is not a family member interested in seeking child custody, a close family friend may be a good candidate for guardianship.

If there are no other family members or family friends that are capable or willing to step in and raise the children, they may become wards of the state of Texas. This option is avoided whenever possible because there can be negative consequences associated with this lifestyle. In the foster care system siblings can be separated or moved to a new town, causing even more stress and isolation. While some foster children find wonderful families that eventually adopt them, some move from foster home to foster home until they become adults, never getting to have a true sense of family and belonging.

There is little more tragic in life than children losing their parents. When it happens, it is imperative that family or friends interested in stepping in to provide a loving home for the children act swiftly and carefully. All the details of child custody must be worked out as quickly yet thoroughly as possible to minimize the stress being added to children already dealing with an emotionally-challenging situation. A potential guardian should seek the assistance of an experienced attorney familiar with the Texas laws pertaining to child custody. This will help the process move more smoothly and efficiently, helping to provide balance and stability for the children.

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